Older people who are left alone are 50 per cent more likely to die earlier than expected, a new study has found. Researchers from the department of public health at University College London found that social isolation increases mortality rates even after health problems are accounted for. The study looked at the lifestyles of 6,500 people aged 52 and over during a period of seven years. Each participant was asked a series of questions to establish how they lived their life. Researchers then separated them into two groups – integrated and isolated. Almost twice as many people in the second group died during the study. Professor Andrew Steptoe, who led the study, said: "People who live alone or lack social contacts may be at increased risk of death if acute symptoms develop, because there is less of a network of confidantes to prompt medical attention." He added that social contact itself also appears to have biological benefits which help to maintain the mind and body.
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