Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How Loneliness Can Kill. Wait, Loneliness Can Kill?

Loneliness has been linked to killer conditions like heart disease. But researchers have always wondered if lonely people are physiologically different, or just isolated from health-support resources (like a friend to drive them to the hospital when they’re feeling ill).

A new UCLA study,
reported by Newsweek, suggests it’s a physiological issue. According to Newsweek, “Loneliness actually changes how the body functions at a molecular level.” For example, lonely people have elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol (which can contribute to the development of cancer); their bodies don’t produce as many disease-fighting antibodies when sick; and in the lonely, “a group of genes involved in fighting viruses were not expressing themselves as much,” found researchers.

Before you get too worried because you only have three friends on MySpace, the report also explains that people that are alone aren’t necessarily lonely. Loneliness is a (very) subjective thing. According to Newsweek, “the loneliness that leads to these adverse health conditions is tied to how individuals perceive their social situations.”

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.