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Social Relation Linked to Longer Life

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Social relation could be more important than medications when it comes to your lifespan.  A new study has revealed that not only are people who need people the “luckiest people in the world,” they also live the longest.

Julianne Holt-Lunstead of Brigham Young University in Utah led a team of researchers to try and determine the relevance of social ties as they relate to physical health.  They analyzed 148 studies that looked at the social relation, or lack thereof, of over 300,000 people. 

After controlling for pre-existing health conditions and other factors, the researchers determined that people who have a strong social network are 50% less likely to die early; they also came to the conclusion that being reclusive is harder on physical health than smoking or being an alcoholic.  Specifically, they state that being socially isolated is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

As for why this is the case, Holt-Lunstead concedes that the exact cause of the link is still unclear; however, the team suspects that becoming socially isolated depresses the immune system significantly.

Additionally, people who are surrounded by family and friends often feel more responsible for those close to them, which may mitigate risky behavior.
 
According to PLoS Medicine, a recent survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation found that 10% of people often feel very lonely, while a third of the population feel they know someone who is lonely.  In the United States, there has been a three-fold increase in the number of people who claim to have no confidants.

The reasons for this are complex, but many mental health experts, our lifestyles play a role.  More and more people are marrying later and delaying having children and life in industrialized nations “sets us up” for social isolation, as more and more families live far away from other family members.

How is this study significant?  According to Holt-Lunstead’s team, this research could influence how physicians view social network or social relation with respect to patient health.

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Subscribe to comments feed Comments (20 posted):

James on 07/28/2010 19:00:14
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This is complete bullshit... 15 cigarettes a day?
How can any normal MD make this conclusion?
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on 07/28/2010 19:09:02
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Sounds like BS to me too.
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Daniel on 07/28/2010 19:13:07
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Seems like you two goobers should get out of your moms house a little more often. Science says so.
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Scott on 07/28/2010 19:17:15
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I would love some proof on this. Depression may lead to obesity and what not but everyone is different and to just generalize social isolation leads to physical health failures is obserd.
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Ramon on 07/28/2010 19:24:17
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So if being social isolated is worse than being an alcoholic...I could keep drinking because it makes me talk to everyone and also leads to some questionable hook ups? Go Science!
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Keith on 07/28/2010 19:31:13
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Another vote by me for a B.S. study. Because of the BYU link, perhaps one perpetuated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? I can think of numerous examples of friends or family where social ties were NOT linked to a longer life.
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Daniel on 07/28/2010 19:37:44
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Ramon do you want to questionably hook up with me?
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Ramon on 07/28/2010 19:40:26
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Maybe...but this Keith guy seems to have some stupid ideas...and im down with stupid ideas. So hes saying he knew people who were social, yet did not live long lives, so in his mind, this constitues a better study than BYU? Keith, lets make this offical man...can you legally make decisions?
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Daniel on 07/28/2010 19:46:51
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Ouch! Keith you just got burned. I think he is calling you retarded. Does this forum count as human interaction? Keith probably hasnt had this much action since he took his cousin Steve to prom back in '86.
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Jason on 07/28/2010 19:57:11
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"Specifically, they state that being socially isolated is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes per day."

That's right folks...being this way will give you lung cancer. You're only chance is to do something socially drastic and illegal to cause the cancer to go into recession. Don't you people watch Breaking Bad? I already knew all about this.
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Adam on 07/28/2010 19:57:44
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You guys are idiots. This study looked at 150 studies covering 300,000 people, and determined that on average, those with less social ties were more likely to die early. Your anecdotes of social people dying young don't make a trend. The study talks about averages over a very large group of people.
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Daniel on 07/28/2010 20:00:05
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Ohh Breaking Bad, now there is a topic I can get into. Walt is a badass. Unlike Keith who just has a bad ass.
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Jason on 07/28/2010 20:03:10
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Yeah, yeah, yeah I used "you're" instead of "your" Someone will inevitably point that out.
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Dianne on 07/28/2010 20:38:48
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Huzzah for virtual studies of other virtual studies that "prove" that when you look for something... you inevitably find it! Also, vague terms do not validate an argument.
How many social contacts are needed to improve health? Do these social contacts need to be f2f? Or do online friends count? Do social networking websites actually improve health potentials or are they just an elaborate list of names that have little to no real meaning in our lives? Or does the oneupsmanship of "I've got 123456 online friends and you've only got 20" effect health or longevity?
Questions like these should be addressed before BS studies like the one mentioned in the article here are given any weight at all. But that won't happen, because this is more likely to raise a fuss & sell headlines.
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I am not a doctor, I just play one on facebook. on 07/28/2010 22:24:58
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Hmm, For years "they" said babies should sleep on their backs.

The next big group study said, on the belly.

Oh, wait a few more years goes by and "THEY" said babies should sleep on their sides.

Heck, I say put them up on a ceiling fan and hope for the best if you are going to listen to this kind of research!

These kinds of "Scientific" studies have gone on for years.

A LONG time ago Doctors used to say smoking was good for your health! Smoke was blown into children's ears to relieve ear pain. Cocaine was (and might still be..) giving to relieve headaches.

Just because some study says something doesn't make it's true. Results of any study are only as good as the procedure of which the study was conducted!
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Kevin on 07/29/2010 03:05:03
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I can see how this might be true. to any reclusive person who disagrees, go get some friends, a good friend of mine who was reclusive killed himself for no reason, hence I grew a large audience of friends, & it kills anxiety & any other imaginable ailment when you have & can maintain a good base of friends.
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Nolo on 07/29/2010 04:04:25
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Reading the comments was fun! Do it again!
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retry on 07/29/2010 06:35:18
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Study seems like a priori reasoning to me. Maybe the things that lead to a shorter life also lead to reclusion (i.e. depression, neuroses, stress induced from anger, etc.)

Life is far too complicated to draw one to one relationships between two variables. There is no way to isolate all the other thousands of variables -- not without doing reverse trend studies up the wazoo.
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Dev on 07/29/2010 06:44:20
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Good lord people! The point is to get out and have sone fun with your friends. Have a drink it a smoke if you like... But go have some fun! I like ri travel and u always forget to bring something. But I always pack a smile... Never been in a mean country or one with bad food and always make friends. I love to talk but it is better to listen and hear great tales from people of all walks of life.
So go out and make some new friends!
Cheers,
Dev
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I am not a doctor, I just play one on facebook on 07/29/2010 23:02:01
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OK, here are some more "Scientific" studies to buy into..

The smell of Rotten eggs will make you live longer.
http://inventorspot.***/articles/can_smell_rotten_eggs_make_you_l_8935

People who are overweight live longer. That's right OVERWEIGHT people live longer. Look at Web MD site about it..
http://www.webmd.***/diet/news/20090625/study-overweight-people-live-longer

Scientists say if you eat woolly mammoth steak you'll live longer (Really?? lol..) Below is the link about that one..

http://www.findingyourhealth.org/health-articles/47-probiotics/60-want-to-live-longer-eat-woolly-mammoth-steak

Another great study that "Scientists" have done said... "Staring at BOOBS will make you live longer..."

Here's a site for that one..

http://www.themedguru.***/20091206/newsfeature/stare-boobs-longer-life-study-86131320.html

Some people will believe anything. Do you remember when people used to believe (because of some study) that a dog's mouth was clean? I have seen MANY dogs lick their own butts, I don't care what ANY "STUDY" says, the mouth of a dog is not clean. Although, It's butt might be. lol..
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