Men living alone are at greater risk of inflammation, study says

Research has previously shown that years of living alone can have adverse effects on a person’s health, and a new study published Monday shows that at least one of these effects may be particularly bad for men.

The study looked at blood samples from 4,835 participants from the Copenhagen Aging Bank and Midlife Biobank to check levels of inflammation.

said Dr. Carolina Davidson, a research assistant in the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen and author of the study publication. “In women, we did not find such an effect.”

The study, published in the journal BMJ, looked at both the years of living alone and the number of breakups because the end of important relationships is often followed by periods of living alone, the researchers wrote. Looking at divorce cases just wasn’t enough to track the loss of partnerships due to the growing number of people who have important relationships but aren’t married, according to the study.

Dr Peter Libby, a specialist in cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who was not involved in the study, said the relationship between loneliness and negative health effects has been well documented. Libby said this study reinforces the link experts have observed between the nervous system and inflammation, which is a major contributor to heart disease.

“There is a growing understanding of the basic links between psychological stress and biological variables related to inflammation,” Libby said.

The women who took part in the study did not show a strong association between living alone or many breakouts and inflammation, but Davidson noted that this may be partly a result of fewer female participants than male participants in the study.

Davidson added that the participants’ levels of inflammation might also have looked different if they were measured at more advanced ages. The average age of those studied was 54.5 years old, she said, and it is likely that the effects of the separation and the years they lived alone would have persisted with age.

Being alone versus feeling lonely

What is a person who lives alone supposed to do—whether by choice or by circumstance? Knowing the information can be valuable to the doctors treating it, Davidson said.

“One (suggestion) would have advised health professionals to be aware of this at-risk group who may be living with an additional social risk factor that is not normally considered,” she said.

Knowing that the risks of inflammation may increase, Libby said he advises patients to strive for a healthy lifestyle.

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“When faced with adversity of any kind, regular physical activity and a healthy diet may aid in psychological and biological well-being,” Libby added.

Like most things, living alone comes with its risks and benefits.

Loneliness has been linked to decreased health, well-being, and cognition — but living alone doesn’t always mean feeling lonely.

Research in recent years has shown that more people are not married and living alone, yet data has revealed that loneliness declined from age 50 to around the mid-1970s, said Louise Hockley, a senior scientist with the nonpartisan research organization NORC at the center. University of Chicago. Hockley was not involved in the inflammation study.

A diverse social network, in addition to feeling in control of an individual’s life, had a significant impact on how lonely a person felt, according to 2019 Hawkley research.

Single and satisfied

For some, celibacy is an advantage, according to Elyakim Kislev, an assistant professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Kislev analyzed US and European databases, including the US Census Bureau and the European Social Survey, as part of an examination of trends in celibacy and what makes some singles happy.

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He studied relationship norms in more than 30 countries and conducted more than 140 interviews with singles in the United States and Europe – people aged 30 to 78 who together represent a mix of races, genders, socioeconomic backgrounds, and ethnicity.

He found the main differences between happy singles and unhappy individuals generally depended on whether they internalized or ignored stereotypes about being single.

The isolation of some happy singles was also compensated for by the purchase of exciting experiences, such as traveling or searching for new hobbies. Kislev said they used their time alone to “replenish their energy” and “empower them by focusing on themselves in these moments.”

The latest study may shed light on the risks for men living alone, but health is multifaceted, monitoring risk factors, maximizing wellness and treating inflammation that arises with the help of your doctor can help patients live healthy lives, Libby said.


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