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A report from the Los Angeles Times paper indicates that researchers from the Brigham Young University in conjunction with University of North Carolina were involved in a study and carried out a data analysis from 148 studies. The people involved in the data were more than 300,000 and aged 7.5 years in average. The relationship between social support and the risk of death was studied in men and women who belonged in all age categories. Their condition of health at the beginning of the study, their level of study or even the cause of their death were not factors to be considered.
The study found out that people who are involved in proper social relationships such as families, friends and the society at large have a 50% lesser chance of dying the period of study than those who lack social support. This is an effect that can be compared to what one feels after abandoning the habit of smoking. According to Smith, a professor in psychology in Brigham University, the interpretation of this was that 50% of the people who were socially connected had a chance of living 3.7 years more on average than the people with fewer connections. The study also indicated that individuals with little or no support are exposed to a death risk that is equal to what alcoholism can cause and a higher risk than what obesity or physical inactivity can cause.
Julian Holt- Lunstad who wrote the review that appeared in the journal of PLoS Medicine notes that the 50% was an average number that was arrived at after all the studies were put together. Some of the studies used such methods as finding out whether an individual stayed alone to find out about the person's social activities. Other studies used more complicated ways such as taking the overall number of individuals that were in one's social network, how people participated in communal activities and the level of a person's loneliness. The more complicated methods realized that social support was related to high chances of survival.
According to Dr. Gomez such studies have limitations especially in finding out cause and effect. It is not quite clear whether social connectivity promotes good health or it is people in good health who are likely to participate in social connections. It is therefore not right to claim that social relationships lead to an increase in survival. In addition, Gomez says that the studies do not elaborate in what ways social connectivity could result in good health. There could also be numerous differences that may present among people who are socially connected. These differences could be the real cause of health situations.
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There are other scientific studies that have shown that social relationships can affect health. One of these studies is the one carried out by Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University where a number of volunteers were injected with the cold virus. The results indicated that persons involved in social relationships had less chances of developing symptoms of a cold. In another study done by Janice Kiecolt-Glaser at Ohio State University, students who were lonely exhibited poor immune response as compared to those who were less lonely.
According to Teresa Ellen Seeman of UCLA School of Public Health, there is information that shows that regulatory systems in the body are influenced by social relationships. For instance people with positive social relationships may have lower blood pressure, lower levels of cholesterol, lower levels of stress hormones and increased glucose break-down.
In general, friendly and supportive people may assist in many things such as lending you money or advising you to observe better health practices. They also assist I making us feel appreciated or even encourage us emotionally when we face challenges in life. When one is loved and appreciated by the people in his social group then one feels more secure and may live a better life. Despite the fact that it is not clear how social network sites such as Facebook affect mortality, people should foster to have more good friends. Those who are lonely should be tested for depression a studies have indicated very few disadvantages of being in a social relationship. Those people who are in good social relationships should do their best to maintain them and those who are not should make efforts to initiate them.
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