Washington: Don’t take loneliness lightly — it could harm your immune system and health, says a new study.
Loneliness spurs production of proteins signalling the presence of inflammation, linked to coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as the frailty and functional decline that can accompany aging, say researchers.
“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,” says Lisa Jaremka, postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Behavioural Medicine Research at the Ohio State University, who led the research.
“One reason this type of research is important is to understand how loneliness and relationships broadly affect health. The more we understand about the process, the more potential there is to counter those negative effects — to perhaps intervene,” adds Jaremka, according to an Ohio statement.
The results are based on a series of studies conducted with two populations: a healthy group of overweight middle-aged adults and a group of breast cancer survivors.
The researchers measured loneliness in all studies using the University of California Los Angeles Loneliness Scale, a questionnaire that assesses perceptions of social isolation and loneliness.
Jaremka presented the research at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual meeting in New Orleans.