The Reason Loneliness Could be Bad for Your Health

Recent research on the genetics of disease suggests loneliness can actually make you ill. Lonely people are at greater risk of developing illnesses associated with chronic inflammation. These include heart disease and some cancers.

The effect of loneliness on mortality is comparable with that of smoking and drinking. Over a period of 7.5 years, a socially active person has a 50 person better chance of surviving than a lonely one.

The Economist reports:

“The level of messenger RNA from most genes was the same in both types of people. There were several dozen genes, however, that were less active in the lonely, and several dozen others that were more active ... Broadly speaking, the genes less active in the lonely were those involved in staving off viral infections. Those that were more active were involved in protecting against bacteria ... [I]nflammation is an antibacterial response.”

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