Are you Lonely? You are more Prone to Sickness
A recent study shows that being lonely may actually be a health risk and can even amplify a person's risk of premature death. However, the clear link between the two had not yet been established. But now the researchers have found that the reclusiveness may impact a person's health as it can initiate cellular changes that can affect their immunity system. In a study involving 141 old adults, the researchers studied the association between being lonely and the way the express of genes in their white blood cells, body's defense mechanism against bacteria and virus. Amongst the participants, 36 people were considered as chronic recluse, as reported by Health Line.
According to the study author John Cacioppo, psychologist at the University of Chicago, this form of gene expression "is changing the body to be more likely to show an inflammatory response." He added, this response "puts the organism in a state of preparation for bacterial infection." This, he says, however comes at a price that fights the possible viral infections. Simply put, when people are lonely, there is a shift "away from protecting against viruses, and more towards protection against bacteria," Cacioppo told Live Science.
The findings of the study reveal that seclusion the formation of pro-inflammatory pattern of gene expression are related to one another and can actually promote each over a period of time. In the study, the people who have been lonely from the start of the study period were most likely to have a pattern of pro-inflammation gene expression. The people who had this gene expression were lonely even one year after the study, said the researchers, reports Yahoo News. The researchers further added that these results cannot be explained by other external factors such as stress, depression, social acceptability etc.