Feeling lonely? Then watch out, as it can increase inflammation in your body

Humans are a social animal and there’s no denying in that. While some find loneliness comforting, it may increase the inflammation in the body.
Burnout signs
Loneliness may be a sign of burnout. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
IANS Updated: 11 May 2021, 06:40 am IST
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Some people isolate themselves and some are being isolated by others, whatever the reason may be, humans are not meant to be socially isolated and lonely. 

In a recent study published in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, researchers have found that social isolation and loneliness might up the inflammation in the body. 

For the findings, researchers analysed 30 previous studies to find the link between social isolation and loneliness with inflammation in the body.

Study researcher Christina Victor, Professor at Brunel University in the UK says:

Our results suggest loneliness and social isolation are linked with different inflammatory markers. This shows how important it is to distinguish between loneliness and isolation, and that these terms should neither be used interchangeably nor grouped together

What is body inflammation?
According to the researchers, inflammation is the body’s way of signalling the immune system to heal and repair damaged tissue and defending itself against viruses and bacteria. If inflammation is not healed properly, it might start damaging healthy cells, tissues and organs and lead to an increased risk of developing non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease.

Feeling lonely can pose a big risk. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What has loneliness got to do with inflammation?
According to the researchers, the state of being isolated from other people was associated with the presence of C-reactive protein–a protein substance released into the bloodstream within hours of a tissue injury, and increased levels of the glycoprotein fibrinogen, which is converted into fibrin-based blood clots.

Interestingly, researchers also identified the link between social isolation and physical inflammation was more likely to be observed in men than women as they respond differently to social stressors.

Also, read: Being addicted to your phone can lead to loneliness and this time even science is saying it

“The evidence we examined suggests that social isolation may be linked with inflammation, but the results for a direct link between loneliness and inflammation were less convincing,” said study researcher Kimberley Smith, Professor at the University of Surrey in UK.

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“We believe these results are an important first step in helping us to better understand how loneliness and social isolation may be linked with health outcomes,” Smith concludes.

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