Summary: A comprehensive study highlights the alarming link between social isolation, loneliness and increased mortality.

The meta-analysis, which included over two million participants, found a significant increase in all-cause mortality for socially isolated and lonely individuals. Furthermore, this risk was increased for individuals with pre-existing health conditions such as cardiovascular disease or breast cancer.

The findings emphasize the importance of prioritizing social health to promote public well-being and reduce mortality.

Key facts:

  1. Social isolation was associated with a 32% increased risk of all-cause mortality and a 24% increased risk of cancer death.
  2. Loneliness was associated with a 14% increased risk of all-cause mortality and a 9% increased risk of cancer death.
  3. For individuals with pre-existing health conditions such as cardiovascular disease or breast cancer, social isolation was associated with an even greater risk of all-cause mortality and cancer-specific mortality.

Source: Neuroscience News

A recent comprehensive analysis of prospective cohort studies including over 2 million individuals has revealed a strong link between social isolation, loneliness and increased mortality.

These findings highlight the importance of social connections to our overall health, and serve as a poignant reminder of our inherently social nature.

The profound effects of social isolation and loneliness on our health

This groundbreaking research has highlighted the significant health risks associated with both social isolation and loneliness.

Credit: Neuroscience News

Social isolation was found to be associated with a 32% increased risk of all-cause mortality.

Likewise, loneliness was associated with a 14% increased risk. When we look at specific causes of death, such as cancer, the results are just as surprising.

Social isolation and loneliness were associated with a 24% and 9% increased risk of cancer death, respectively. Furthermore, it was found that social isolation increases the risk of mortality from cardiovascular diseases by 34%.

Closer examination of individuals with existing health problems

When the researchers focused on individuals who had pre-existing health conditions such as cardiovascular disease or breast cancer, the results were no less striking.

Socially isolated individuals with cardiovascular disease or breast cancer had a 28% increased risk of all-cause mortality and a 51% increased risk. Moreover, socially isolated individuals with breast cancer faced a 33% higher risk of cancer-specific mortality.

This data paints a stark picture of how our social experiences can have a significant impact on our physical health, even when we’re dealing with serious illnesses like cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Interpreting the consequences

These findings not only highlight the serious health consequences of social isolation and loneliness, but also highlight the need to prioritize social health as an important aspect of public health.

The health risks associated with social isolation and loneliness are significant and cannot be ignored.

This shows a man sitting alone on a bench.
In a world where social isolation and loneliness are increasingly common, these findings are a stark reminder of the profound impact our social experiences have on our health. Credit: Neuroscience News

The question then arises: how can we reduce social isolation and loneliness, especially among those living with current health conditions?

The need for comprehensive public health programs

The solution requires a broad, multifaceted policy at the community level. We need to foster communities that encourage social interaction and foster supportive relationships.

Health professionals need to be aware of the health risks associated with social isolation and loneliness and should integrate social health assessment into routine health screening.

Programs that facilitate social connections, such as community activities and support groups, can be especially helpful for individuals with pre-existing health conditions. For these individuals, enhancing social connections may be an important component of disease management and may potentially improve both their quality of life and prognosis.

In a world where social isolation and loneliness are increasingly common, these findings are a stark reminder of the profound impact our social experiences have on our health.

The complex interplay between social experiences and health outcomes remains an active area of ​​research, with the hope that further research will reveal actionable insights for improving public health.

The evidence is clear: we must face the health risks associated with social isolation and loneliness. By strengthening social connections and prioritizing social health, we can improve the well-being of our communities and potentially reduce the risk of mortality among socially isolated and lonely individuals.

The health of our communities depends not only on medical advances, but also on our ability to connect with one another.

About this news about social isolation and mortality

Author: Neuroscience News Communications
Source: Neuroscience News
Contact: Neuroscience News Communications – Neuroscience News
Image: The image is submitted to Neuroscience News

Original research: Closed access.
“A systematic review and meta-analysis of 90 cohort studies on social isolation, loneliness and mortality” by Fan Wang et al. Nature Human behavior


Abstract

A systematic review and meta-analysis of 90 cohort studies on social isolation, loneliness and mortality

The relationship between social isolation, loneliness and risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer is controversial.

We systematically reviewed and meta-analysed prospective studies of the relationship between social isolation, loneliness and mortality in adults aged 18 years and older, as well as studies of these relationships in people with cardiovascular disease or cancer.

The research process was registered with PROSPERO (register no. CRD42022299959). A total of 90 prospective cohort studies including 2,205,199 subjects were included.

Here, we show that in the general population, both social isolation and loneliness were significantly associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality (pooled effect size for social isolation, 1.32; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.26 to 1.39; P< 0.001; pooled effect size for loneliness, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.08 to 1.20; P< 0.001) and cancer mortality (pooled effect size for social isolation, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.19 to 1.28; P< 0.001; pooled effect size for loneliness, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.01 to 1.17; P= 0.030).

Social isolation also increased the risk of CVD mortality (1.34; 95% CI, 1.25 to 1.44; P< 0.001). There was an increased risk of all-cause mortality in socially isolated individuals with CVD (1.28; 95% CI, 1.10 to 1.48; P= 0.001) or breast cancer (1.51; 95% CI, 1.34 to 1.70; P< 0.001), and individuals with breast cancer had a higher cancer-specific mortality rate due to social isolation (1.33; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.75; P= 0.038).

Greater focus on social isolation and loneliness can help improve people’s well-being and the risk of death.

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