Being lonely and single increases the odds of middle-aged men getting cancer as much as smoking and excess weight. Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland followed 2,750 middle-aged men from 1980 until the present day, monitoring their health issues.
According to the Daily Mail, 25% of the study participants developed cancer and 11 % died from the disease. The scientists found a 10% link of increased risk of cancer to loneliness. Since cancer is the world’s second leading cause of mortality, the researchers said that more “attention should be paid to this issue.”
Single, lonely men in the study had a higher mortality rate than men who were married.
“This information would enable us to better alleviate loneliness and the harm caused by it, as well as to find optimal ways to target preventative measures,” the authors of the study published in Psychiatry Research wrote, adding that “the connections between loneliness, social isolation, and cancer are poorly understood.”
Research in the past has suggested that loneliness can increase the risk of chronic disease and overall mortality.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that recent studies found that:
- Social isolation significantly increases a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that is similar to that caused by smoking, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle.
- Social isolation was associated with a 50% increased risk of dementia.
- Loneliness or lack of social relationships was linked to a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
- Loneliness correlated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
- Among heart patients, being lonely increased their risk of death fourfold and their risk of hospitalization by 68%.
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