Posted on Nov 18, 2018, 8 p.m.
The American Cancer Society conducted its largest study on all races and genders saying that social isolation increases risk of early death, this doubles for black Americans and drives up cancer mortality for caucasians, as published in the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine.
It should be clear that social interaction is essential for survival without which blood pressure rises, inflammation ramps up, and many turn to unhealthy habits for comfort that only accelerate those issues. In its largest study to date the American Cancer Society hammers home the serious and true dangers of loneliness which can feel heightened by the approaching holiday season.
Risk of premature death from every cause for every race is increased by social isolation. For caucasians solitude has been found to increase the risk of cancer significantly, unlike other groups. For black Americans solitude doubles the risks for early death, and it increases 60% for male and 84% for female caucasians, in the first study to confirm tangible risks of social isolation to every racial group.
Loneliness is different than social isolation: Loneliness is temporary whereas social isolation is the prolonged lack of contact with others. Real life human contact is key to survival, the internet just doesn’t cut it. Understandings of the evolutionary importance of physical and social interaction has developed significantly over the last century, showing social isolation can be as dangerous as smoking. Epidemiologists are gaining even better understandings of what solitude does to the body and how different bodies respond.
Data was analyzed from 580,182 adults enrolled into Cancer Prevention Study-II who were followed for mortality, the 30 year study gathered data on various social factors for every person such as how many close friends or relatives they had, how often the saw them, whether they were single or married or divorced, if they had children, and how often they were alone. Using the data collected each person was given a social isolation score: Scores ranged from 0 being the most lonely to 5 being the most social.
Scores were looked at to determine whether there was a correlation between it and general health. Age at death and how they died were looked at to discover that the correlation was unequivocal. Those who were the most socially isolated had the highest risk of death for all races any way it was looked at; every risk increased for everyone including heart disease.
Losing human contact appeared to have more drastic implications for African Americans than any other group and was more common among this group; it was least common among caucasians. Among black Americans the least social were found to be 2 times more likely to die early compared to the most social regardless of gender.
Lack of interpersonal connection appears to be detrimental and social isolation is a robust predictor of mortality risk among both genders whether caucasian or African American.
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