Monday, September 17, 2007

Another Reason to Love Your Friends

It's common knowledge that prolonged isolation can lead to depression and cause other psychological harm. Now scientists say they've found a genetic component that may help explain why persistent loneliness is physically unhealthy. In a study of people on both extremes of the loneliness scale, lonely individuals were found to have overactive genes that promoted inflammation and cell growth when compared with their socially-connected peers. Similarly, the genes of lonely people were deficient in controlling inflammation and the cellular life cycle. It's not that certain individuals are genetically doomed to loneliness. Rather, the study concluded that certain genes may be more or less active in lonely people and have consequential negative effects on their health. According to WebMD these genetic patterns may explain why chronic loneliness has long been linked to poorer health and accelerated aging. Like with so many things in life, researchers highlight that it's the quality and not the quality of relationships one has that seems to matter.


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