The study shows that loneliness is linked to a higher risk of cancer in middle-aged men

A recent study by the University of Eastern Finland shows that loneliness is linked to an increased risk of cancer in middle-aged men. Therefore, according to the researchers, addressing loneliness and social relationships should be an important part of comprehensive health care and disease prevention. The results were published in Psychiatry Research.

Based on studies done over the past few years, it has been estimated that loneliness can be just as significant a health risk as smoking or being overweight. Our results support the idea that attention should be paid to this issue. “

Siiri-Liisi trench, Project researcher, University of Eastern Finland

The study started in the 1980s with 2,570 middle-aged men from eastern Finland participating. Their health and mortality rates have been monitored using registry data to date. During the follow-up examination, 649 men, or 25% of the participants, developed cancer and 283 men (11%) died from cancer. Loneliness increased the risk of cancer by about ten percent.

This association with cancer risk was observed regardless of age, socio-economic status, lifestyle, sleep quality, symptoms of depression, body mass index, heart disease and their risk factors. In addition, cancer mortality was higher in cancer patients who were unmarried, widowed, or divorced at baseline.

“There is a growing awareness of the health effects of loneliness. Therefore, it is important to study the mechanisms by which loneliness has harmful effects on health. This information would enable us to better understand loneliness and the harm it causes to alleviate. as well as finding optimal ways to take preventive measures. “


University of Eastern Finland

Journal reference:

Kraav, SL., Et al. (2021) Loneliness and social isolation increase cancer incidence in a cohort of middle-aged Finnish men. A longitudinal study. Psychiatry research.

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