Social relationships and mortality risk

This has only the slightest relationship to tobacco harm reduction issues but it is just too interesting not to mention.

Just published in PLOS, the meta-review Social Relationships and Mortality Risks is bound to make the news for some time. And rightly so.

While I can see many points of debate regarding the specifics within the review, the overall conclusions appear to make good sense along the lines of Michael Marmot‘s work on socioeconomic status as one of the determinants of health.

The three questions I have regarding this (perhaps more appropriately characterized as lazy thoughts) are:

1. If these effects hold, what does this mean for other studies on mortality?
Is it a case of some of the traditional causes being weaker than we thought or is it more a case of competing causes where if one thing doesn’t kill you the other will?

2. How do the relatively recent emergence of virtual networks play into this?
Could FaceBook participation actually contribute to longer life or do virtual networks have the opposite effects of increasing the effects of lacks in non-virtual networks?

3. How long will it be before John Banzhaf sees the potential for another billion dollars to chase?
If you recall, though never leaving the anti-tobacco money trough, he was distracted by the anti-obesity issue and went chasing fast food. (He is getting older and food stalls are much easier to catch than ambulances). My prediction is that he will sue divorce initiators for decreasing the life spans of their partners.

– Paul L. Bergen

2 thoughts on “Social relationships and mortality risk

  1. What’s healthier; being in a dysfunctional relationship or enjoying a solitary life?

    They say the third time (marriage) is the charm. Two down and one to go for me; maybe?

    A spouse is someone who helps you through all the problems you wouldn’t have had if you would have remained single!” lol

  2. That was one of the questions I did have…..though I think that most people respond best to social networks, and may even thrive on the disagreements as well (after all, it is still attention), there are a few people who must thrive for precisely the reason you pointed out.

    In general, people fill their homes with other living things…children and pets…and often both. We even have studies about the negative effects of empty nest syndrome (more on the males it seems because it only effects their social income whereas with females the more people that leave the house the less they have to work).

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