Does loneliness destroy the immune system?

In recent research, scientists have linked loneliness to a wide range of dysfunctional immune responses, suggesting that lonely people are at an increased risk of developing various diseases.

The researchers first tried to get information about the current state of the immune system of single people by measuring the levels of antibodies in the blood that are formed and activated in the presence of herpes virus infection.< /p>

Participants in the study were 200 women who survived after being cured of breast cancer, having passed between 2 months and 3 years since the end of the treatment of the disease. They had an average age of 51 years. Their blood was tested for the presence of antibodies against Epstein-Barr and cytomegalovirus.

Both are herpes viruses with which a relatively large proportion of Europeans are infected.

In about half of people, viral infections do not cause illness, but once a person is already infected, the viruses remain latent in the body and can become active, causing antibody levels or titers to rise.

But again, most infected people do not show any symptoms, but this is nevertheless a sign of an imbalance in the cellular immune system.

Loneliness and stress activate herpes virus

Study results show that people who are more lonely have an increased risk of reactivation of latent herpes virus than in people who spend their free time among loved ones.

No difference was found in Epstein-Barr virus antibody levels, possibly because its reactivation is age-dependent.

But scientists point out that most of the participants in the study were elderly, so a correlation between loneliness and the activity of the virus can hardly be detected.

Previous research has indeed found that poor relationships between colleagues and loved ones are a risk factor for a number of health problems, including premature mortality, as well as many other serious illnesses.

The scientist leading the study from Ohio State University notes that most lonely people feel insulted or guilty, and this is the reason for their social isolation and generally poor relationships with loved ones, friends and colleagues.< /p>

In previous studies, scientists have found that stress contributes to suppressing the function of the immune system, and this is the reason for the easier reactivation of any pathogenic microorganisms in the body.

In the laboratory, this is established by increased antibody titers.

Too many inflammatory processes

In additional research, the same team of scientists who also conducted the above study found that lonely people develop more inflammatory processes caused by certain proteins.

Studies trying to determine how loneliness affects the production of pro-inflammatory proteins or cytokines as a result of stress were conducted with 144 female breast cancer survivors and another from 134 middle-aged and older overweight women who have no serious health problems.

In both groups of study participants, the lonelier were found to have significantly higher levels of the cytokine interleukin-6 when under severe stress compared to those who were committed and live together with their families.

These results were maintained even after the scientists included in the assessment and a number of other factors such as sleep quality, age and general health indicators.

The discovery made by scientists is truly sensational because chronic inflammation is the cause of many diseases, such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as muscle and mental weakness. which accompany aging in most people.

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