Loneliness Taxes the Immune System

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New research has linked loneliness to a number of dysfunctional immune responses, suggesting that being lonely has the potential to harm overall health. Researchers found that people who were more lonely showed signs of elevated latent herpes virus reactivation and produced more inflammation-related proteins in response to acute stress than people who felt more socially connected. Chronic inflammation is linked to a number of dire health conditions, including coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as the frailty and functional decline that can accompany aging, researchers note. “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 — and people who are lonely clearly feel like they are in poor-quality relationships,” said Lisa Jaremka, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University and lead author of the research.

by Janice Wood, PsychCentral

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