(VitalNews.org) – New research points to loneliness as a possible cause of poor bone health in men. Social isolation and loneliness have already been established as a cause of, or contributing factor to, a great many mental and physical health issues. These include depression, high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, and even Alzheimer’s. According to the National Academies of Sciences, loneliness among heart failure patients is linked with a quadrupled risk of fatality and a nearly 70% increased risk of hospitalization.
It appears that scientists have been able to add a decrease in bone density to the long list of ailments associated with loneliness, although Dr. Rebecca Mountain of the Maine Institute for Health Research, who was the lead researcher of the bone density study, stressed the need for more research into the subject in order to build up a better picture of exactly what happens to the skeleton of a lonely person. As it is, Dr. Mountain was able to present the findings of the study at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society (ENDO 2023) in Chicago, Illinois.
The study kept some adult mice isolated in their cages, with no other mice for company. Others were placed in groups of four mice. This continued for four weeks. At the end of the four-week period, the researchers found that the isolated male mice experience a dramatic negative effect on their bone density, while the solitary females had no change to their bone mass. While this could mean that female bone density is not impacted by loneliness, it could be that the female mice experienced similar issues but on a longer timescale.
Dr. Mountain explained that social isolation was a powerful factor in people’s health and one which is of increasing concern to many health experts. She also pointed out the dramatic increase in social isolation caused by lockdowns imposed by various governments as a response to COVID-19, although she explained that loneliness was already on the rise before any such measures were taken.
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