Experts: Loneliness Just as Bad for You as Smoking

Attention, shut-ins! Research shows loneliness can raise blood pressure, increase stress, and much more

By Elizabeth Bougerol
|  Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009  |  Updated 6:44 AM EDT
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Experts: Loneliness Just as Bad for You as Smoking

A new study links loneliness to a passel of health risks.

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We're sure your eight cats are wonderful company, but it might be time to get out more. Join a club. Take a class. Do it for your health.

According to researchers at the University of Chicago, isolating yourself from human contact triggers all sorts of terrible bodily responses, including upping your blood pressure, releasing a stress hormone called cortisol (which, p.s., makes you fat), and makes you a prime candidate for Alzheimer's Disease. It'll also probably mess with your sleep habits, ding your immune system, and make you depressed.

In fact, said John Cacioppo, who revealed the research findings at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the overall health difference between a lonely person and a popular person was akin to that between a smoker and a non-smoker.

So even if you don't smoke, drink, or overeat, you might want to at least join Facebook, or you may as well have been doing shots of Jaeger before breakfast. And conversely, if your idea of healthy living is a dozen Krispy Kremes slathered in duckfat with a Stoli chaser consumed among friends, you'll be fine. (The experts didn't actually come to this conclusion, but we find it comforting.)

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