SEE – July 11: A new Cambridge University’s study revealed that the inclination to feel lonely or to socialize seemed to be partly determined by our genetic coding, which potentially offers new ways to tackle health problems associated with loneliness.
To put it another way, two people in very similar situations might feel differently as to whether they’re lonely or not – and this study suggests that could be partially down to the genetic coding they were born with.
The findings of the study which was published in the British “Telegraph” drew on survey responses from 487,647 participants of the UK Biobank scheme. The researchers identified 15 gene regions linked to loneliness.
While loneliness has been associated with genetics before, this is the first time researchers have been able to highlight specific gene regions that seem to have an impact on how isolated we feel.
They also found evidence of a possible association between obesity and feeling lonely, suggesting one might be driving the other – so the same genes could be increasing the likelihood of someone being overweight and being lonely, and tackling them both together might be a better approach.
Another finding of the study revealed a link between feeling lonely and the earlier death.
The research team found genetic overlaps with traits identified in previous studies: depression, obesity, and poor cardiovascular health in particular. It could be that these traits are combining to increase the risk of loneliness in a particular person.
“We often think that loneliness is driven purely by our surrounding environment and life experiences, but this study demonstrates that genes can also play a role,” one of the team, John Perry from the University of Cambridge in the UK, told the “Telegraph”.