Why Loneliness Can Be Deadly
- Loneliness can send a person down a path toward bad health, and even more intense loneliness, studies have shown. But while some have assumed the culprit was a dearth of others to remind a person to take care of himself or herself, new research suggests there's a direct biological link between being lonely and ill health.Loneliness can set into a motion a barrage of negative impacts inside the human body â€” but with additional social contact, some of the ill effects can be stopped.John Cacioppo, a University of Chicago social psychologist who studies the biological effects of loneliness, presented some of his latest research at the Social Psychology and Perception meeting in San Diego in February.He has found, for instance, loneliness is tied to hardening of the arteries (which leads to high blood pressure), inflammation in the body, and even problems with learning and memory. Even fruit flies that are isolated have worse health and die sooner than those that interact with others, showing that social engagement may be hard-wired, Cacioppo said.
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