Loneliness May Lead to Increased Risk of Premature Death
A recent study suggests that loneliness may have as great an effect on premature all-risk mortality as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day and being an alcoholic.
The researchers examined data from various studies that included more than 3 million participants. The studies complied data about loneliness, social isolation, and living alone.
After controlling for variables such as socioeconomic status, age, gender and pre-existing health conditions, they found that loneliness greatly increases the risk of dying prematurely. Conversely, the existence of social connections provides a positive health effect.
Interestingly, the effects were more profound for young people than older people. While older people were more likely to be lonely and had a higher mortality risk, people who were younger than 65 were at the highest risk of loneliness-associated death.
Researchers from Brigham Young University conducted the study. It was published in the March 2015 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science.
Loneliness is not just an emotional problem. Previous studies have shown that being lonely can increase markers of inflammation, and increase the risk of heart disease, the development of Alzheimer’s and depression.