Friendship Could Be a Key to Longevity

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A new United Kingdom study shows the more friends you have, the longer you're likely to live.

Researchers looked at 6,500 people over the age of 52 and found social isolation increases the risk of early death in older people.

Seniors who weren't able to see friends or family regularly are 50 percent more likely to die pre-maturely.

"Social interaction is really to do with the extent of people's connection with others, such as family, friend, relatives and neighbors," The Daily Mail quoted Andrew Steptoe, professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London.

"Loneliness is more of a subjective experience -- feeling isolated or lacking companionship. That doesn't seem to be as important as the actual physical isolation," he explained.

Researchers say getting out and being around people will not only help with feelings of loneliness, it will actually help increase a person's life expectancy.

"What this study is doing is making the point that social connections is key to long-term health, and it is not just companionship and friendship, but basic social contact," Steptoe said.

The seven-year study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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