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Natural Awakenings Lehigh Valley

Social Isolation Linked to Earlier Death: Loneliness Just as Damaging as Smoking, Excessive Drinking and Obesity

Jun 30, 2015 11:14AM

New research from Brigham Young University indicates that social interaction decreases the risk of premature death. Scientists conducted an analysis of actuarial health research from 1980 to 2014 that included more than 3 million people.

The study found living alone increased the risk of death by 32 percent, while perceptions of greater social isolation and elevated loneliness showed 29 percent and 26 percent increased risks of early mortality, respectively. The results were consistent among both men and women, but the impact of feelings of isolation or loneliness caused a higher degree of mortality risk for individuals under the age of 65.

The mortality rates among the lonely and isolated were comparable to those of individuals that smoked 15 cigarettes a day or were alcoholics. Lead researcher Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Ph.D., further noted, “The effect of this is comparable to that of obesity, something that public health takes very seriously.”

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