Loneliness is associated with higher blood pressure and heart disease — it literally breaks our hearts.
Now researchers are trying to understand exactly how loneliness causes disease at the cellular level. And they’re finding that loneliness is far more than a psychological pain — it’s a biological wound that wreaks havoc on our cells.
Genes that code for the body’s inflammation response are turned on to a degree not seen in non-lonely participants.
Which isn’t good. “Inflammation is great at responding to acute injury, but if you have inflammation going chronically, it serves as a fertilizer for chronic diseases like atherosclerosis and cardio vascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and metastatic cancer,” Steve Cole, a genetics researcher at the University of California Los Angeles says. “That provides one reasonable biological explanation for why they might be at an increased risk for these diseases.”