UCLA Logo As Tom Cochrane puts it, ‘I believe a lot of disease comes from anxiety and loneliness.’ True to this, here is some scientific evidence which asserts that loneliness has detrimental effects on one’s health. In a major breakthrough, UCLA experts found that lonely people have a greater risk of being diagnosed with inflammatory disease. It is assumed that feelings of social isolation can lead to the activity of pro-inflammatory immune cells.

During the study 93 older adults were screened for gene function among different types of immune cells. Scientists observed that genes originating from two particular cell types plasmacytoid dendritic cells and monocytes were overexpressed in chronically lonely individuals than the controls. These cell types apparently produce an inflammatory response to tissue damage, and are a part of the immune system’s first line of defense. It is known that the first line defense of the immune system creates an immediate inflammatory response to tissue damage.

It is this inflammatory response that in the long run may promote cardiovascular disease, cancer as well as neurodegeneration. It was suggested that lifestyle and social environments can influence human health. Steven Cole, a member of the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, and a member of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and colleagues predict that the evolutionarily ancient immune system cells have developed a molecular sensitivity to the social environment for protecting the body against socially transmitted pathogens.

The study is published in the February 7 11 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.