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Like Stress, Loneliness Harms the Body's Immune System

January 20, 2013, 3:59 PM
Loneliness

What's the Latest Development?

New research suggests that loneliness works on the body like physical stress, encouraging the inflammation of proteins associated with health risks like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer's disease, as well as the frailty and functional decline that can accompany aging. "Lonelier participants [in the recent study] had higher levels of antibodies against cytomegalovirus than did less lonely participants, and those higher antibody levels were related to more pain, depression and fatigue symptoms."

What's the Big Idea?

Loneliness, clinically speaking, is a socially painful situation that can last for extended periods and is determined largely by self-perception. Lisa Jaremka, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University and lead author of the research, said: "It is clear from previous research that poor-quality relationships are linked to a number of health problems, including premature mortality and all sorts of other very serious health conditions. And people who are lonely clearly feel like they are in poor-quality relationships."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at Science Daily

 

 

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