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Don’t Be A Loner! Study Shows Loneliness Can Kill You

Apr 20, 2016 11:53 AM EDT
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Most people find satisfaction in isolation, but a new study shows that loneliness associated with social isolation can be dangerous to one's health.

The study, published in the journal Heart, suggests that people who are lonely and alone have a higher risk of developing heart diseases and experiencing stroke.

May studies have already been conducted showing a link between social isolation and increased risk if illness and death, but Nicole Valtorta, a research fellow at the University of York and co-author of the study, argues that these studies focused more on weakened social relationship and increased mortality risk.

"It didn't tell us if people who felt lonely were at increased risk of developing disease once they were in ill health," Valtorta told Medical Daily. "We wanted to bring together the information of all the studies we could find and see what comes of it."

To determine if there is an association between loneliness or social isolation and heart disease and stroke incidence, the researchers analyzed 23 studies with a total of more than 181,000 adult participants.

Upon further examining of the existing data, researchers then discovered that people experiencing loneliness and isolation have 29 percent higher risk of heart attack and 32 percent increased risk of having a stroke.

The researchers claim that the study is purely observational. Even if there is a present association between loneliness or social isolation and increased risk of heart attack and stroke, there is no concrete evidence to prove that there is a causal relationship between the two.

For the study, researchers defined loneliness as a negative feeling a person has, thinking their relationship are insufficient, while social isolation is when a person is not in contact with anyone.

Many people commit the mistake of associating social isolation with introversion. Introverts are people who find enjoyment in their own company or with a small group of friends. While they may appear to be isolated from others, they do have social interactions, unlike those people who suffer social isolation and are completely cut off.

The rise of technology and internet greatly helps people avoiding social isolation, but researchers suggest that connections through the wires do not have the same benefits to a real person-to-person contact.

Having many friends is not enough to say that you are happy. Researcher says that a person can feel lonely even if he or she is surrounded by many people. So it is still best to build up your level of relationship even with a few select loyal friends. In friendship, it is still best to have quality over quantity.

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