Do My Genes Make Me Lonely? Study Finds Loneliness Is A Heritable Trait

Posted by on September 11, 2017 in Sci-Tech, Science with 2 Comments
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

lonely-woman-sitting-on-a-park-bench

Source: Science Daily

Loneliness is linked to poor physical and mental health, and is an even more accurate predictor of early death than obesity. To better understand who is at risk, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine conducted the first genome-wide association study for loneliness — as a life-long trait, not a temporary state. They discovered that risk for feeling lonely is partially due to genetics, but environment plays a bigger role. The study of more than 10,000 people, published September 15 by Neuropsychopharmacology, also found that genetic risk for loneliness is associated with neuroticism and depressive symptoms.

The research was led by Abraham Palmer, PhD, professor of psychiatry and vice chair for basic research at UC San Diego School of Medicine. In their paper, Palmer and team explain that just as physical pain alerts us to potential tissue damage and motivates us to take care of our physical bodies, loneliness — triggered by a discrepancy between an individual’s preferred and actual social relations — is part of a biological warning system that has evolved to alert us of threats or damage to our social bodies.

But not everyone perceives loneliness in the same way.

“For two people with the same number of close friends and family, one might see their social structure as adequate while the other doesn’t,” Palmer said. “And that’s what we mean by ‘genetic predisposition to loneliness’ — we want to know why, genetically speaking, one person is more likely than another to feel lonely, even in the same situation.”

The heritability of loneliness has been examined before, in twins and other studies of both children and adults. From these, researchers estimated that 37 to 55 percent of loneliness is determined by genetics. Previous studies also tried to pinpoint specific genes that contribute to loneliness, focusing on genes related to neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, or other cellular systems associated with human attachment, such as oxytocin. But, Palmer said, these studies mostly relied on small sample sizes.

In their latest research, Palmer and team used a much larger sample size — they examined genetic and health information from 10,760 people aged 50 years and older that was collected by the Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal study of health, retirement and aging sponsored by the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health. As part of this study, participants answered three well-established questions that measure loneliness. The survey doesn’t actually use the word “lonely,” as many people are reluctant to report feeling that way. Instead, the questions were:

  • How often do you feel that you lack companionship?
  • How often do you feel left out?
  • How often do you feel isolated from others?

The study accounted for gender, age and marital status, as married people tend to be less lonely than unmarried people.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE…

Tags: , , ,

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS FeedConnect on YouTube

2 Reader Comments

Trackback URL Comments RSS Feed

  1. Yong Cp Yong Cp says:

    LOVELY ‘ there on Heritable Traits? Just ask a simple ‘Q ? By how MANY ‘a birth you’ll VISIT THIS WORLD? R u ? Between A CONTRIBUTOR ‘ or Baggages ‘collectors of C’ n E ‘ retributions? Then ‘ you’ll C ‘There to accept traits? EACH VISIT ‘ you overload ‘ yourself the BAGGAGE COLLECTOR ‘ burdening for CALAMITY ‘ that’s why? Tq.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FAIR USE NOTICE. Many of the stories on this site contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making this material available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental issues, human rights, economic and political democracy, and issues of social justice. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law which contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. If you wish to use such copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use'...you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. And, if you are a copyright owner who wishes to have your content removed, let us know via the "Contact Us" link at the top of the site, and we will promptly remove it.

The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Conscious Life News assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms.

Paid advertising on Conscious Life News may not represent the views and opinions of this website and its contributors. No endorsement of products and services advertised is either expressed or implied.
Top

Send this to friend