When Britney Spears sang, “My loneliness is killing me,” she probably put it as a symbolic metaphor, and probably little she would have anticipated that it might be literally true too.
Yes, that’s right!
Researchers at Brigham Young University found that loneliness is a serious health risk, and feeling lonely increases one’s chance of early mortality by roughly 30%. “People who were socially well connected had greater longevity” the study found. “Loneliness may soon become a public health problem at par with obesity and substance abuse” the researchers commented. The study analyzed 70 earlier studies and looked at 3 million people, predicting a loneliness epidemic in future. Earlier studies have found even higher odds of mortality, with odds as high as 45%. In another study done in Chicago University also, people who were lonely were twice likely to die than those who were least lonely. Fourteen percent increased risk of dying due to loneliness has double the impact of an early death due to obesity, and the risk is comparable to smoking. The impact of loneliness has been found akin to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. People spending little time with friends/family, or at social events, are more likely to die regardless of income or health status. The day may not be far that the doctors might be prescribing ‘friends’ over ‘medications’.