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The Lethality of Loneliness

Judith Shulevitz, The New Republic

Psychobiologists can now show that loneliness sends misleading hormonal signals, rejiggers the molecules on genes that govern behavior, and wrenches a slew of other systems out of whack. They have proved that long-lasting loneliness not only makes you sick; it can kill you. Emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking. A partial list of the physical diseases thought to be caused or exacerbated by loneliness would include Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer—tumors can metastasize faster in lonely people.

Every day our world becomes more connected digitally, yet we seem to be growing apart physically, as we become more consumed by the never-ending social cycle. As we’ve entered this new wave of  social solidarity, we are just now learning of the effects loneliness can have on our bodies, spelled out in an adroit piece by Judith Shulevitz.