Being sociable boosts health
Being popular is beneficial for our health, a study has found.
Research conducted by Harvard University found that a protein called fibrinogen, which contributes to heart attacks, were higher in levels in people who weren’t sociable. Fibrinogen is made by the liver and helps blood clots by stopping the bleeding, making it potentially lifesaving during a serious injury. But if levels are too high for too long, the chance of strokes and heart attacks is higher.
The team looked at measurements of the protein from over 3,500 men and women, also noting information of their social lives in two forms; how many people the individual named as a friend, and how many people called them a pal. Those taking part listed between two and 32 friends, with an average number of 10. However, on average each participant was only viewed as a friend by four people.
While the correlation between the number of friends someone said they had and fibrinogen levels was small, those who were seen as a buddy by a lot of people had lower levels of the protein.
Meanwhile those who weren’t seen as a friend by as many people had more of the compound in their bodies, with those least popular found to have similar levels of fibrinogen than those of smokers.
“What matters is how others see us, not how we see them,” Harvard University researchers said of the findings, published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B reports.
The reason why friendship is so important to health is yet to be confirmed, though it’s thought to be down to aspects such as stress relief and encouragement from others to have good health.
This research comes after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that just 50 per cent of friendships are mutual, meaning people may not be as popular as they think.