Friendship. As important as good nutrition and exercise are close friends and relatives. More studies show that those with a large number of friends, relatives and other social ties live a longer, healthier life. Harvard researchers investigated the effect of social ties, death and heart disease, in a 10-year follow-up study of nearly 30,000 men. Those who were more socially isolated were nearly 20% more likely to die from any cause and 53% more likely to die from a heart-related cause than those who reported the highest number of social ties. Those with a moderately low number of social connections had a more than twofold greater risk of death from accidents and suicides than did their peers with the most social ties.
Overall, married men reportedly had a lower risk of death from any cause and a greater than twofold reduced risk of death from accidents and suicides than their unmarried peers. In addition, men who attended at least one religious service per year and those who spent at least 11 hours per week participating in some type of social group also seemed to be protected against all causes of death. Social isolation is a ‘risk factor’ for ill health that deserves as much attention as other risk factors for cardiovascular disease and other ailments.
Eng PM, Rimm EB, Fitzmaurice G, Kawachi I. Social ties and change in social ties in relation to subsequent total and cause-specific mortality and coronary heart disease incidence in men. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2002;155:700-709.