Social isolation linked to increased inflammation, premature death
Social isolation is a widespread issue in the United States and European countries. Research has shown that social isolation has links with an increased risk of disease and premature death.
A recent study identifies an association between social isolation and two inflammatory markers, suggesting that inflammation may be a contributing factor.
Many people define social isolation as an absence of social contact. It can lead to loneliness in older adults and an increased risk of serious health conditions.
According to the authors of the recent study, 1 in 4 US adults aged 65 years and older are socially isolated.
A 2016 review of published data found that social isolation, loneliness, or both were associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and 32% greater risk of stroke.
However, experts do not yet understand fully why social isolation affects health in this way.
Researchers in the U.S. recently completed a study using data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study. They found a significant link between social isolation and markers for inflammation.
Inflammation is one of the body’s defense mechanisms. When working correctly, it helps fight against toxins, injury, and infection. For example, acute inflammation, following a cut on a knee, lasts a few hours or days.
However, chronic inflammation can last months or years. White blood cells can flood the body and damage healthy tissues — the body is in a state of high alert.