Scientists say they’ve figured out why loners get sick and die young: “a highly suspicious conspiracy of genes” screws up their immune systems, Reuters reports. Their altered DNA can lead to heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and other problems. “There is something about being isolated and lonely that changes your body,” a biologist says.
Researchers admit they’re not sure what comes first, the loneliness or the DNA, but a recent study could help doctors prevent the effects. Aspirin might reduce chronic inflammation that leads to other problems, for example. Scientists have known about the loneliness-sickness connection for years, but debated whether loners simply had no one to take care of them when health problems developed.