Cancer risk: Loneliness is as dangerous as smoking

Dr. Karen Zoffel | 04/29/2021

Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland observed 2,570 men for more than 20 years and examined whether the incidence of cancer increased in certain circumstances. About a quarter of them (649 men) developed cancer and 11 percent (283 men) died of it.

On closer examination, it was found that feeling lonely increases the risk of cancer by about ten percent. This relationship was independent of age, socioeconomic status, lifestyle, sleep quality, depression, body mass index, heart disease, and other known risk factors. Cancer mortality was also higher in unmarried, widowed, or divorced patients at the start of the study.

With the results, according to Kraff, the research team confirmed other studies indicating that feeling lonely can pose a health risk that is no less dangerous than smoking or being overweight. However, the reasons for this are still not entirely clear. “Awareness of the health consequences of loneliness is increasing all the time. So it is important to closely study the mechanisms through which loneliness is harmful to health. Study author Siri Lacy Kraff said the findings will enable us to better mitigate loneliness and the damage it causes.” The results are published in the journal Psychiatry Research.

what should I do 10.1016 / j.psychres.2021.113868

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