News / Health

Family, Friends Help You Live Longer

Relationships improve your odds of survival by 50 percent

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Art Chimes

Humans are social animals, and most of us treasure our relationships with family and friends.

An emerging line of research suggests that relationships can keep us healthier. And a new study finds those social connections may also help us live longer.

This new study combined a large number of previous studies and concluded that a lack of social interactions ranks right up with smoking, obesity, and alcoholism as a risk factor for death.

Researchers from Brigham Young University analyzed 148 studies with a total of some 300,000 participants, tracking their social relationships and whether they survived to the end of their particular study, which averaged about seven years.

"Those who scored higher on those measures of social relationships were 50 percent more likely to be alive at that follow-up than people who scored low on those measures," said Professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad, one of the authors of the study.

She pointed out several ways relationships can affect our health. They can help us cope with stress. They can help us maintain healthy habits like eating well, exercising or seeing a doctor. And there's increasing research that shows a direct but poorly-understood link between relationships and physiological processes in the body.

"So for instance, our relationships have been linked to lower blood pressure, better immune functioning, and even inflammatory processes that are implicated in a number of diseases," said Holt-Lunstad. "And so our relationships can influence our health in a variety of ways that are all very important."

Even though Holt-Lunstad and her colleagues looked at almost 150 different scientific studies, most of them didn't assess the quality of the relationships.

"And certainly relationship quality matters, and not all relationships are entirely positive," she conceded. "And so it's possible that the effects that we have reported may be a conservative estimate, and that the odds of survival associated with high-quality relationships may actually be larger."

Speaking via Skype, Julianne Holt-Lunstad said her research suggests that policy makers need to consider relationships as a health issue. So just as no-smoking zones have expanded over the years, she suggests that city planners, for example, should consider whether their decisions might promote or hinder the development of personal relationships.

Julianne Holt-Lunstad's study is published in the journal PloS Medicine.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid