Loneliness is as bad for you as smoking, research shows

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Pandemic created shared loneliness, gave people chance to shirk stigma: doctor. Photo: Pexels


(Padraig Moran/ CBC News) — Top health officials say loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking, but one doctor warns that the stigma around feeling lonely still stops people from reaching out for support.

“Just like thirst is a signal you need hydration, loneliness is a signal you need … human connection,” said Dr. Jeremy Nobel, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School and author of Project Unlonely: Healing our Crisis of Disconnection.

“Why is it we’re guilty and ashamed about being lonely, where we don’t feel that way about being thirsty?” he asked The Current’s Matt Galloway.

Last week the World Health Organization designated loneliness as a “global public health concern,” appointing U.S. surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy to lead an international commission to tackle the problem. Research has shown that loneliness is as bad for people’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

In a talk he gave at Yale last year, Murthy said he wants to raise the alarm about the shame people associate with loneliness. (..)

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