New Harvard Research Says Being Without Friends Is As Damaging To Your Health As Smoking

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People are social beings. At least I know I am. I love spending my evenings with pals, riding bikes, having a drink, or taking a hike. But without friends, we start to find ourselves alienated from our communities. It’s not only bad for our mental health, but it’s bad for our physical health as well.

According to a Harvard Study of women, not having friends can be as bad for you as smoking.

“The subjective experience of social distance reaches down into some of our most basic internal processes–the activity of our genes,” writes the study’s authors.

The study concluded that “the genes of chronically lonely people showed over-expression in immune system activation (such as inflammation) but under-expression in antiviral responses and antibody production,” which help impacts our overall health.

So now science even backs up the need to have at least a few friends. It’s not only great for our mental health but our physical health as well. Try meeting some new people!


Yvonne L. Michael et al., “Health Behaviors, Social Networks and Healthy Aging: Cross-Sectional Evidence from the Nurses’ Health Study,” Quality of Life Research 8 (1999): 711-722.