Women in our culture generally have richer social networks than men, and this observation has been used as part of the explanation for women coping better with stress and living longer. Now a meta-analysis has shown that a low number of friends, family, colleagues etc. in a person’s social network has similar negative effects on health and longevity as smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle or over-use of alcohol. The researchers say that their analysis was not able to differentiate between positive and negative social relationships, so having a good number of positive ones might give an even stronger effect on living healthier and longer!
Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB. Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review. PLoS Medicine, 2010; 7 (7):