Could Being Lonely Be As Deadly As SMOKING? Studies Are Telling Us YES

lonely, smoking, health


Could Being Lonely Be As Deadly As SMOKING? Studies Are Telling Us YES

Written by: Lindsay Sibson

I’ll save you the lecture about how BAD smoking is for your health (because you already know this).

However, have you heard of something seemingly harmless that could be as DEADLY as smoking?

And shockingly enough it isn’t another drug or alcohol… it is feeling LONELY.

Harvard University researchers have found a link between blood clotting protein levels caused by loneliness and increasing your susceptibility to heart attacks and strokes.

How Loneliness Impacts Your Health

Not socializing with friends and family and being alone activates your “fight or flight” stress signal. When this happens, it causes your protein levels (fibrinogen) to go up in case you get injured.

As a result of too much fibrinogen, fatty deposits build up in your arteries.

The Harvard Study

Harvard researchers studied people with varying amounts of friends and family and were able to  find a connection by comparing their blood-clotting protein levels.

The results?

Fibrinogen levels were HIGHER in people who socialized less often and had fewer friends:

  • People with 5 friends had 20% higher levels than those with 25 friends
  • 10-12 fewer friends drastically diminishes your health
    • As much damage as people who SMOKE! 

The study observed that having fewer friends results in people feeling more vulnerable (and sometimes threatened), which results in an ongoing triggering of your flight or fight response… often in lethal doses.

Dr. David Kim, lead author of the study, stated:

“Measurement of the whole social network can provide information about an individual’s cardiac risk that is not necessarily apparent to the individual herself.

“Social connectedness displays a significant association with fibrinogen.

“If there is indeed an independent causal relationship between social isolation and fibrinogen and subsequently, heart disease and stroke, then policies and interventions that improve social connectedness may have health effects even beyond the well-known benefits of improved economic conditions.”

The York Study

To further support the notion that loneliness is damaging to your health, a separate study conducted at The University of York found:

  • Lonely people have a 30% higher chance of suffering from stroke or heart disease. 

The reasoning behind these stats is still up for debate, but some of the researchers felt it was a result of lonely people not having people around them to notice if they are well or motivate them to take care of their health.

The  lead researcher of this study noted:

“These finding are consistent with a growing body of research indicating that social relationships are important for health.”

The Mental Health Foundation Study

It is often believed that loneliness is a larger issue for the elderly population. HOWEVER, this was found to not be true by The Mental Health Foundation… what was discovered is that 18 to 35 year olds often feel MORE lonely than those over 55 years of age.

Dr. Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director of The British Heart Foundation, stated:

“BHF-funded research has already identified that social isolation can have a negative impact on your health.

“We can’t conclude from this study that social isolation directly causes heart problems. But the possibility that social factors can affect a protein in our blood, like fibrinogen, is an interesting prospect for further research in this area.”

Overcoming Loneliness

Want to learn more about how to connect with others and build meaningful relationships? Check out this video to learn:



Lindsay Sibson

Lindsay Sibson

Lindsay Sibson turned her lifelong dream of traveling the world into a reality when she first stepped on a plan in April of 2014. With the simple intention of learning more about this beautiful world, she stepped away from corporate America to explore an alternative lifestyle of long term international travel, volunteering, blogging and pursuing a blissfully happy and fulfilling way of life.

Lindsay documents her journey in hopes of empowering others to find their passion, reignite their spark and freshen their outlook on life. Connect with her on her website and follow her travels on Instagram (

Through her blog, Lindsay documents her journey in hopes of empowering others to find their passion, reignite their spark and freshen their outlook on life.
Lindsay Sibson

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