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Social Health

January 18, 2016

How do social relationships affect our biochemistry and health?



Relationships and health. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

New Year’s resolutions often involve eating less or exercising more. But the healthiest resolution could be to strengthen your social connections. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of North Carolina sociologist Yang Claire Yang and her colleagues analyzed large datasets spanning decades comparing the health of people’s relationships with markers of disease.

YANG CLAIRE YANG (University of North Carolina):

What we’re doing in this study is to reveal some critical biological mechanisms by which social relationships matter to health.


They found that having poor social connections leads to chronic stress. Stress hormones increase inflammation and blood pressure, and can even be a factor in weight gain. The work shows how relationships get under our skin and affect us biologically, and highlights their importance in leading longer, healthier lives. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.