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Dean Pomerleau

Loneliness & a Small Social Network Predicts Mortality in Elderly

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 I'm almost tempted to suggest we and others who might be interested try a sort of minimally scientific test run in Tucson via a 2- or 3-day Airbnb arrangement. (Or someone local hosts us.) Might be more practical to wait to do it at the following conference, though (likely late 2017 or early 2018).

 

That would be an interesting experiment, and I'd be game to participate. But sharing a room seems a little too intimate for me (sorry Saul  :)xyz).

 

 

Swedes are WAY less open to unusual lifestyles than Americans  on average, but esp. among the sort of educated elites who would be interested in health- politics-based communities. The US is the land of alternative lifestyles par excellence!

 

Very interesting, although I expect it depends on where in the US you're comparing against. I suspect there are still a few pockets of intolerance to be found around the US...

 

But I'm surprised about Sweden. I associate Sweden and all of Scandinavia with a liberal, progressive political perspective, which I also somehow equate with tolerance and openness to new  experiences and lifestyles. Shows how naive and ill-informed I am about other cultures... Sad how parochial we are, particularly I suspect in the US.

 

Where in that chain of associations does my understanding go awry?

 

--Dean

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But I'm surprised about Sweden. I associate Sweden and all of Scandinavia with a liberal, progressive political perspective, which I also somehow equate with tolerance and openness to new  experiences and lifestyles. Shows how naive and ill-informed I am about other cultures... Sad how parochial we are, particularly I suspect in the US.

 

Where in that chain of associations does my understanding go awry?

 

At several points. Keyword for my summary: Stalin. :)

 

One can be leftist ("liberal" in the North American sense) – i.e., believe in state and collective ownership – yet not be open to change or to the new.

 

But it also happens to be the case – though this isn't relevant to openness to new things and alternatives (lifestyles or whatever) – that most of Scandinavia is moving towards a libertarian perspective on economics, and a far-right perspective on immigration and tradition.

 

The areas where Scandinavia, at least traditionally, has been more open to alternatives than the US and most countries are things like different forms of sexuality, gender, and the like. But that doesn't carry over to much else.

 

- Brian

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One can be leftist ("liberal" in the North American sense) – i.e., believe in state and collective ownership – yet not be open to change or to the new.

 

But it also happens to be the case – though this isn't relevant to openness to new things and alternatives (lifestyles or whatever) – that most of Scandinavia is moving towards a libertarian perspective on economics, and a far-right perspective on immigration and tradition.

 

The areas where Scandinavia, at least traditionally, has been more open to alternatives than the US and most countries are things like different forms of sexuality, gender, and the like. But that doesn't carry over to much else.

 

- Brian

 

Thanks Brian for the interesting comments.

 

Wikipedia article on Political_spectrum:

 

"...the contemporary American right is often considered communitarian (or populist) on sociocultural issues and individualist (or libertarian) on economic issues."

 

I don't know how "scientific" such descriptions are, but they can certainly be entertaining.

 

Similarly for the proliferation of chatter about "Generations" such as "Gen X" versus "Millenials".

 

Are these collections of humans mere constructs, or do they really exist?

 

It's all good, clean fun and I enjoy reading about these constructs even while wondering if the groups are real or imaginary.

Edited by Greg Scott

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Hi Dean!

 

Like you, I have few social contacts outside my family -- my wife and myself.  And, our two daughters, when we see them (My wife and  I are in Rochester, NY, and my daughters are in lower Manhattan).

 

But, I also have my colleagues where I work -- who are aquaintences who I see at least three times a week (but not in the Summer) -- and, I have two "CR buddies" here in Rochester -- both vegan.  (One, in his eighties, is wealthy and started CR late; he's in bad health, but [at least was] on a very strict alternate day fasting regimen; the other is in his 50's, in good health, but only mildly on CR.)  We try to get together for lunch, approximately once a month (usually less frequently).  And, my wife and I have a common friend,  who's a female Economist in her 50's -- she was on the Council of Economic Advisers of the Regan administration.  We'll probably invite her for one of our Passover Seders.

 

And I enjoy teaching my classes at the University of Rochester.

 

In 20 minutes, I'm going to a Seminar -- and later, I'll join some colleagues for dinner with the speaker (being very careful what I eat -- at department dinners, I usually put the waiter under the third degree :)xyz).

 

  -- Saul

Edited by Saul

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Earlier in this thread I said:

Some people seem to need frequent social interactions to feel happy and fulfilled, while other, more introverted folks find happiness in other things, and can be uncomfortable with too much social engagement / interaction.

 

This new study [1] (popular account), seems to bear this statement out, and interestingly, correlate it with intelligence, as well as situate it within a larger psychological framework the authors call the "Savanna Theory of Happiness" (STH). Basically, the STH says that as a result of our evolutionary heritage:

 

the human brain may have difficulty comprehending and dealing with entities and situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment, roughly the African savanna during the Pleistocene Epoch.

 

Therefore, if we find ourselves in situations our ancestors wouldn't have encountered on the savanna, or in situations which would have been disadvantageous (or life threatening) if they did, then we will feel bad. So as an example, it's pretty clear what that our ancestors lived in relatively small, tight-knit communities. So their theory predicts that if we moderns get plunked into an environment where we have very impersonal interactions with many people (i.e. city living) we'll be uncomfortable and unhappy. Sure enough, using data from around 15,000 young adults, they found that increased population density was inversely correlated with subjects' reported sense of overall well being & happiness. 

 

Further, because social isolation was disadvantageous, if not life threatening for our savanna-dwelling ancestors, their theory predicts that moderns will be unhappy without tight and frequent social contact. Sure enough, they found support for this as well in the population they studied - fewer social interactions with friends per day predicted lower overall life satisfaction.

 

So far, these two predictions and their confirmation are not too interesting. Tell us something we didn't know, I hear everyone saying...

 

So they did (I think), by factoring in the effects of intelligence on these factors (population density & social interactions with friends) on life satisfaction. First, the authors elaborate their STH to include intelligence. They suggest our ancestors may have evolved general intelligence (i.e. what is measured by IQ) "to allow individuals to solve a wide variety of non-recurrent adaptive challenges that also directly or indirectly affected survival or reproduction." They therefore hypothesize that more intelligent people may be better able to cope with novel life situations - situations that our ancestors would not have encountered. And so, following on that, they hypothesize that more intelligent people may be less "thrown off" by high population density and by fewer social interactions.

 

Sure enough - when they looked at their data, they found support for both these influences of intelligence on happiness. People with an IQ +1 standard-deviation above average were happier living in high population density areas than people with an IQ 1-SD below average, even after controlling for other socioeconomic differences. The trend was still there for both higher and lower IQ people - i.e. higher population density was associated with lower life satisfaction in both groups, but the negative influence of increased population density on life satisfaction was less dramatic in the more intelligent group.

 

Even more interesting, and germane to this thread, is the influence of intelligence on the relationship between close social contact and life satisfaction / happiness. Again, the authors predicted that more intelligent people would be less unhappy about having few social contacts than less intelligent people. Sure enough, that's exactly what they found. In fact, the polarity of the impact of frequent social contact on happiness flipped between the two populations (more and less intelligent groups), as can be seen from this graph from the full text:

 

3juW771.png

 

As you can see from the leftmost two bars, in the less intelligent group, the usual relationship was observed - more social contact (black bar) was associated with increased happiness. But in the more intelligent group on the right, frequent socialization with friends was negatively correlated with life satisfaction - more social contact predicted less happiness. In short, more intelligent people seemed better suited to a life with less social contact. Here is the author's description of what Figure 2 above shows (emphasis theirs):

 

Among less intelligent individuals (with a mean IQ of 81.39), frequency of socialization with friends had a significantly positive effect on life satisfaction. Those who socialized with friends more frequently (6.71, nearly every day) had a significantly higher life satisfaction (M = 4.1586) than those who socialized with friends less frequently (1.95, less than twice a week) (M = 4.1163). In contrast, among more intelligent individuals (with a mean IQ of 115.57),those who socialized with friends more frequently were actually less satisfied with life (M = 4.1063) than those who socialized with friends less frequently (M = 4.1311). The statistical interaction was such that more intelligent individuals were actually less satisfied with life if they socialized with their friends more frequently. Among low-IQ individuals,the mean difference in life satisfaction between those who socialize with friends more and less frequently (0.423 <sic> [should be 0.0423 - DP]) translated to d = .05, and that among high-IQ individuals (-0.0248) to d = -.03.

 

Interestingly, that's not to say the more intelligent people actually engaged in less social contact. In fact, just the opposite:

 

ntelligence was significantly positively associated with the frequency of socialization with friends (r = .121, p < .001,n = 14,581); more intelligent individuals socialized with their friends more frequently.

 

In other words, more intelligent people socialized more with friends than did less intelligent people, but doing so reduced the more intelligent people's happiness, or so the data suggests.

 

One of the big reasons to take these results with a bit of a grain of salt is the effects size. If you look at the changes in life satisfaction in the graph above, you'll see changes in from 4.12 to 4.16. Given they used a life satisfaction scale from 1-5, this seems like a pretty tiny effect. In the long paragraph quoted above, the author's report 'd' in the neighborhood of 0.03 to 0.05. The 'd' stands for 'Cohen's d' - a measure of effect size relative to the variability of the data, as discussed in this post. Those d's really are tiny, since a "small effect" is generally considered to be a Cohen's d of around 0.2. The author's observed effect were therefore 4-6x smaller than what is generally considered to be a "small effect" or a "meaningful difference". The authors acknowledge the small effects size, saying:

 

Another potential limitation concerns the very small mean differences that are reported here. While the mean differences we report are small by the standards of experimental psychology, which relies on direct manipulations of independent variables in controlled experiments, their magnitudes are reasonable by the standards of survey research... Nevertheless, further studies are necessary to corroborate the pattern of findings reported here.

 

The authors also discuss the obvious additional problems of correlation not necessarily implying causation, and alternative explanations. For example the authors say:

 

[T]here may be other explanations for our findings. For instance, general intelligence might equip individuals to better handle all situations including high population densities and a lack of interactions with friends. Although plausible, other studies seem to suggest that this is not likely the case. 

 

In summary, this study provides intriguing, but not entirely convincing support for the idea that more intelligent people need less social contact in order to be satisfied with life - a conclusion that I suspect many of us loners find intuitively correct and appealing.

 

--Dean

 

------------

[1] Br J Psychol. 2016 Feb 4. doi: 10.1111/bjop.12181. [Epub ahead of print]

 
Country roads, take me home… to my friends: How intelligence, population density,
and friendship affect modern happiness.
 
Li NP(1), Kanazawa S(2).
 
Author information: 
(1)School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University, Singapore.
(2)Managerial Economics and Strategy Group, Department of Management, London
School of Economics and Political Science, UK.
 
 
We propose the savanna theory of happiness, which suggests that it is not only
the current consequences of a given situation but also its ancestral consequences
that affect individuals' life satisfaction and explains why such influences of
ancestral consequences might interact with intelligence. We choose two varied
factors that characterize basic differences between ancestral and modern life -
population density and frequency of socialization with friends - as empirical
test cases. As predicted by the theory, population density is negatively, and
frequency of socialization with friends is positively, associated with life
satisfaction. More importantly, the main associations of life satisfaction with
population density and socialization with friends significantly interact with
intelligence, and, in the latter case, the main association is reversed among the
extremely intelligent. More intelligent individuals experience lower life
satisfaction with more frequent socialization with friends. This study highlights
the utility of incorporating evolutionary perspectives in the study of subjective
well-being.
 
© 2016 The British Psychological Society.
 
PMID: 26847844

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I think for me (an isolated city dweller) it's not that I "need" more social stimulation, it's that the social stimulation usually ends up bringing more disappointment than just being alone.

 

Beyond going to classes, or work pursuits, or volunteering, what do people do together?

 

Go to parties (eat, drink, drugs, talk...) or go out to restaurants (expensive, unhealthy) or the movies (often violent, pointless), find some common hobby to share (plant trees, listen to bands, club), or to travel can be fun (expensive, crowded) or hiking and camping (but need to know the friend quite well before getting this far)...

 

What do people do? Endless video games? Stare at cell phones and laptops? What does it even mean to be modern-social-first-world-intelligent and not isolated? I suppose if you're married, you have kids, there's all that to do. Rake the leaves, redo the kitchen, buy more gadgets and paintings for the oversized McMansion walls. Walk the dog. Go "run" or play kickball in the park with strangers who can't wait to get drunk when game's over. But families I see usually seem stressed to the point of hatred, so they sit there and watch television together, make important Walmart car trips somewhere, dance class for one kid, gymnastics for another, or it's livingroom-kitchen-bathroom trips with grandparents, more comments about social media, the world's falling to shit, or who's cool who isn't cool, what's funny, what isn't, or finding a better job, or failing chemistry class, or pizza, always more beer, pizza, dullness, politics, how this person loves that, that person hates this... Maybe it's time to join the Peace Corps..

 

What do you people do together, and are the benefits of this doing-together outweighing the benefits of just quietly doing nothing on your own in a lonely isolated urban situation? How do we live: there's no handbook: no guidestones: these are big questions for me, for what it's worth.

Edited by Sthira

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Sthira,
 
For what it's worth, Here are the things I tend to talk about with my family, and (more rarely) with the few friends that I have:
  • Other people - particularly family. My wife's family is having a particularly difficult time lately, and so it is a frequent topic of conversation.
  • Politics - My family and I find it amusing to talk about all the machinations of the current crop of presidential candidates.
  • Philosophy - I'm pretty sure this one is idiosyncratic. A recent example of dinner conversation with my wife and daughter was the "non-identity" problem, or the problem of future people. Why don't people feel morally obligated to have a(nother) child if they know that child would have a happy life? How much (and why) do we owe to future generations - to give them the best planet to live on that we can, when whatever we do will result in a different set of people being born, who will presumably appreciate the opportunity to live, even if their quality of life isn't what it could have been had we (for example) reversed global warming. Is a world with fewer people living luxurious lives better or worse than a world with more people living lives that are much less pleasant, but still better than no life at all? 

We never answer any of these questions definitively. But by talking about them we engage in pleasant interactions and stretch our minds togther. We build stronger social bonds when we agree, cementing our kinship as "birds of a feather" even if we're not directly related (e.g. with friends). Or, if we don't agree, we build stronger social bonds by congenially agreeing to disagree, and pat ourselves on the back for our magnanimity - being willing to be friends with people despite our disagreement. 

 

Regarding whether it's better to be social in these sorts of ways than being a contented loner depends on your personality I think. In general it seems humans are wired and conditioned to get tangible psychological and physical health benefits from social interactions. But I also think (from personal experience and observations) that there are people who are wired to be loners, and can flourish with very little social engagement. 

 

--Dean

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Hi Dean, nice post. As I age I find the "loner" aspect of my personality, though, still strong, wanes. The power of agreeable social engagement is becoming more of a need than when I was younger. Agreeable social engagement I have noticed is a very powerful anti- depressant. So powerful that I would equate with an almost drug like effect. Almost instantaneous when my mood is on the low side-very compelling and makes me think this research is not just an association. Lucky for me I only need small doses of this very powerful medicine, but if I don't get any in a given day my mood sinks, unlike when I was young when. I could hole up for days at my farm and be glad for the isolation

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Well, I recently "was required" to spend more time with family. Fuck, man... Relieved that's over. Sometimes people are perfectly charming and nice, but then, oops, politics and religion and everyone loves television blasting, and news, and sports. Have I mentioned diet yet? Holy shit people eat like really badly, then bitch about being fat, stupid, out of shape, headaches, no energy, and I wanna say just put down the jellybeans for ten-seconds and maybe.... I find it very very challenging socially to keep up with a vegan whole foods thing around family... There sooooo much baggage associated with eating habits, and I once thought women were more pressurizers than men, but SAD eating family men are equals in kidding around to get me to eat damned potato chips or whatever the hell...

 

If you don't find a bird with similar feathers and habitat needs, going alone is almost mandatory in order to maintain values and health.

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All,

 

There is a new study out (press release and HuffPo popular press article) on the connection between social relationships and mortality. I haven't had a chance to delve into the study in any detail, since I've been busy trying to promote social connections with friends and non-spousal family ☺, as well as stave off loneliness and isolation, by organizing the Costa Rica CR Retreat - which I'm happy to report is a go for June 22nd-27th with a full-complement of 10 adventurous travellers!

 

But here are the highlights I've gleaned:

 

The study was part of the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project out of the University of Chicago which followed nearly 8000 old Americans (age 57-84) in two waves, started in 2005-2006 and 2010-2011 respectively. In this study they asked people about their social connections and interactions, and then followed them to see who died. More specifically, they:

 

asked older adults to list up to five of their closest confidants, describe in detail the nature of each relationship, and indicate how close they felt to each person. Excluding spouses, the average number of close confidants was 2.91, and most older adults perceived high levels of support from their social contacts. Additionally, most respondents were married, in good physical health, and reported not being very lonely.

 

Surprisingly (to me and the authors), they found it was family ties rather than friend relationships that had the most positive influence on mortality risk. They found people who reported having "extremely close" ties with family members (but not friends) were about half as likely to die during follow-up as those who were "not very close" to family members:

 

...older adults who reported feeling “extremely close” on average to the non-spousal family members they listed as among their closest confidants had about a six percent risk of mortality within the next five years, compared to approximately a 14 percent risk of mortality among those who reported feeling “not very close” to the family members they listed.
 
The study also found that respondents who listed more non-spousal family members in their network ― regardless of how close they were ― had lower odds of death compared to those who listed fewer family members. 
 
Iveniuk said he was surprised that feeling closer to one’s family members and having more relatives as confidants decreased the risk of death for older adults, but that the same was not true of relationships with friends.
 
“Because you can choose your friends, you might, therefore, expect that relationships with friends would be more important for mortality, since you might be better able to customize your friend network to meet your specific needs,” Iveniuk said. “But that account isn’t supported by the data ― it is the people who in some sense you cannot choose, and who also have little choice about choosing you, who seem to provide the greatest benefit to longevity.”

 

Other interesting findings included:

 

The four factors most consistently associated with reduced mortality risk were being married, having a larger network size, stronger participation in social organizations, and feeling closer to one’s confidants, which all mattered to about the same degree. Factors found to be less important included time with confidants, access to social support, and feelings of loneliness.
 
Marriage was found to have positive effects on longevity, regardless of marital quality. In other words, the marriage bond alone brings some sense of security.

 

To paraphrase Michael Corleone from The Godfather Part II, the takeaway from this one seems to be "keep your friends close, but your family closer" or something like that.

 

--Dean

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Guest p

Forgive me for jumping in to your discussion.  I wandered onto this message board 2 days ago and am interested to learn more.  

 

It seems pretty intuitive that positive social connections would have a positive affect on health and longevity.  The bonds between family members is usually more secure than those among friends.  A larger family network increases that security.   

 

I can't help but wonder, however, if there could be even more to social interactions than the emotional component?  For example, I have read that children raised with pets tend to be healthier; i.e. have fewer allergies.  Humans are pack animals.  On average, we crave physical and emotional connections.  Perhaps sharing germs, dust mites, pollen, molds etc has a positive impact on our health?  

 

 

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Hi Guest P and Welcome!

 

We'd love to have you stay and get to know us. It might even promote your and our longevity! ☺ If you do, would you might registering (for free)? One perk is that you're posts won't be held for moderator approval. Plus you'll have a persistent persona, which can be anonymous if you prefer.

 

Perhaps sharing germs, dust mites, pollen, molds etc has a positive impact on our health?  

 

There is no doubt in my mind that the 'hygiene hypothesis" [1] has some merit - we live in too clean and too sterile environments for our own optimal health. And I've seen studies that say people who live together have much more similar microbial populations than strangers do - so we share all kinds of things, which could be good or bad depending on the habits of your cohabitants!

 

--Dean

 

---------

[1] Clin Exp Immunol. 2010 Apr;160(1):1-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2010.04139.x.

The 'hygiene hypothesis' for autoimmune and allergic diseases: an update.

Okada H(1), Kuhn C, Feillet H, Bach JF.

Author information:
(1)INSERM U1013, Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital, Paris, France.

According to the 'hygiene hypothesis', the decreasing incidence of infections in
western countries and more recently in developing countries is at the origin of
the increasing incidence of both autoimmune and allergic diseases. The hygiene
hypothesis is based upon epidemiological data, particularly migration studies,
showing that subjects migrating from a low-incidence to a high-incidence country
acquire the immune disorders with a high incidence at the first generation.
However, these data and others showing a correlation between high disease
incidence and high socio-economic level do not prove a causal link between
infections and immune disorders. Proof of principle of the hygiene hypothesis is
brought by animal models and to a lesser degree by intervention trials in humans.
Underlying mechanisms are multiple and complex. They include decreased
consumption of homeostatic factors and immunoregulation, involving various
regulatory T cell subsets and Toll-like receptor stimulation. These mechanisms
could originate, to some extent, from changes in microbiota caused by changes in
lifestyle, particularly in inflammatory bowel diseases. Taken together, these
data open new therapeutic perspectives in the prevention of autoimmune and
allergic diseases.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2010.04139.x
PMCID: PMC2841828
PMID: 20415844

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Thank you so much for the warm welcome!

 

I really appreciate the way everyone backs up posts with references.  I've got a lot to learn and have many more questions then knowledge.  This looks like a really nice community.  

 

Pea

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This reminds me of something I was thinking about recently.  Studies (I'm feeling too lazy to find references right now) show the longevity benefits of owning a cat or dog.  Dog I can understand for the obvious reason that owners take them for walks and hence get some exercise, but what good is a cat? (so I thought).  A quick search led to this list on the health benefits of owning a cat (also feeling too lazy to actually track down any of these references to see how legit they are :unsure: ):

 

 

  1. Lower risk of cardiovascular disease: Apparently, if you own a cat, you are less likely to die of cardiovascular disease. Indeed, a study from the University of Minnesota found that those without cats were between 30 and 40 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than cat owners. Does it work for owning dogs as well? According to the study, dog owners didn’t reap the same benefits as cat owners.
  2. Reduce risk of heart attack: You can reduce the chances that you will end up with a heart attack when you own a cat. Not only will your entire cardiovascular system thank you, but you can reduce the chance that you die suddenly due to heart attack if you own a cat.
  3. Improve your immune function: Owning a cat can help your immune function improve. The feelings you get related to the cat can help you give your immune system a boost. Cats often know when you are ill, and can come and provide you with comfort, helping you get better while boosting your immune system.
  4. 220px-Listen_do_you_want_to_know_a_secreDecrease chance of developing allergies: If you are going to have a baby, you might consider getting a pet. Having a cat can help you prevent allergies in your children. There are some studies that newborns that live with animals, specifically cats and dogs, are more likely to avoid developing allergies. Being used to them from an early age triggers immunity.
  5. Help prevent asthma in children: In addition to helping to prevent children from developing allergies, there is some evidence that living with a cat can also help prevent asthma in children. If you have kids, owning a cat and exposing your kids to cats might help them to avoid developing asthma. Early and regular contact with cats can help your children avoid a number of respiratory problems.
  6. Reduce blood pressure: You can help reduce your blood pressure by enjoying the company of a cat. Indeed, having a cat can lead to lower blood pressure. Just stroking a cat is calming and lowers blood pressure. Those who own pets, according to a State University of New York at Buffalo study, are more likely to have lower blood pressure than those who do not have pets.
  7. 220px-Youngkitten-150x150.jpgLower triglycerides: You can lower your triglycerides by exercising and eating fewer carbohydrates (especially from processed foods). But that’s not the only thing you can do. Some studies indicate that if you have a cat, you can lower your triglycerides and boost your health by owning a cat. While you should probably still exercise and eat better, owning a cat can help the process along.
  8. Lower cholesterol: Are you trying to lower your cholesterol? If so, consider getting a cat. Interestingly, cat owners have lower cholesterol than those who do not own cats. A 2006 study in Canada showed that owning a cat was actually more effective at lowering cholesterol than the medications designed to do that same thing. Indeed, you could save money on meds and improve your health, possibly, by becoming a cat owner.
  9. Reduced risk of stroke: The prospect of having a stroke is scary. If you are concerned about having a stroke, you might consider cat ownership. Owning a cat can cut the risk of stroke. A study at Minnesota University found that cat owners could cut their risk of stroke by 1/3. The idea that you can help reduce the changes of getting a stroke, thanks to a cat, is one reason to consider cat ownership.
  10. 220px-Playful_kitten-150x150.jpgReduce stress: Having a cat can help reduce the stress in your life. Having a cat has many psychological benefits, and one of those is relieving stress. Being able to care for an animal, or having a cat snuggle with you, can help you feel better, and reduce your level of stress.
  11. Reduce anxiety: Not only can owning a cat help reduce the stress that you feel, it can also reduce your anxiety. Petting a cat is calming, as are other aspects of caring for cats. When you are concerned with caring for another creature, it can help you take your mind off your worries. Additionally, the presence of a cat that will snuggle with you can help you calm yourself as your enjoy the unconditional love of a cat.
  12. Improve your mood: In many cases, interacting with a pet can help improve your mood. This includes cats. Owning a cat can help you feel better in general, boosting your mood. If you are looking to see mood improvement, a cat can help with that.
  13. Help with depression: Owning a cat can also help relieve depression. While a cat may not actually “cure” depression, it can help take your mind off your problems, and focus on something else. The love a cat offers can also be soothing to the mind. If you are depressed, cat companionship can help you in your battle.
  14. Help with autismAutism is marked by difficulty in social interaction and communication. Those with autism have a hard time communicating in the same way that others do. Having a cat can actually help in these cases. There have been instances where cats have been instrumental in therapy for autistic children. Other developmental disorders can be helped with exposure to cats as well.
  15. Reduced loneliness: Many who have feelings of loneliness can find relief with a pet. Cat companionship can help those who are lonely feel a connection with another life. Just having a cat to come home to and spend time with can help those who are single, or widowed.
  16. 800px-Sleeping_baby_cat-150x150.jpgFewer health care visits: Those with cats make fewer visits to health care professionals. This includes visits to the doctor, and hospital visits. Studies have also shown that nursing homes that allow cats as part of the therapy for patients have lower medication costs than facilities that do not make use of cats as part of therapy.
  17. Longer life: Along with being married and avoiding main roads, you can enjoy a longer life with a cat. Cats provide a number of benefits that can lead to a longer life, including a form of social interaction. So, if you want to be healthy and live a little bit longer, consider owning a cat.

 

I don't like dogs but I think I will get some cats soon for the health benefits   <_<

Edited by Gordo

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Welcome once again Pea, and thanks for registering!
 

I really appreciate the way everyone backs up posts with references.  I've got a lot to learn and have many more questions then knowledge.  This looks like a really nice community.  

 

We are a friendly and pretty rigorous bunch (in several senses of that word). And many of us are vegans, so we don't bite! :-)

 

Speaking of bite - thanks for the article about pets, and especially cats, Gordo. I'm not a cat person, although I've had several throughout the years. Generally a bit too aloof for me, although I have had friendly ones and I can certainly understand how petting / stroking a cat (or dog) could be beneficial for mental and physical health (e.g. stress reduction, blood pressure).

 

The unconditional love and companionship pets (esp dogs) provide really can be life changing for some, particularly those without other intimate social relationships.

 

Dogs are nice because they are a good motivation to get outside and walk or jog a lot, for those who need it (obviously not you). 

 

If I were go get another cat, I'd definitely go for the most dog-like of cats, a Maine Coon cat. My friend/neighbor's MCC is incredibly affectionate, and at 20lbs, is about twice as big as our dog Zoe.

 

-Dean

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I was looking into getting a Savannah cat:

savannah_cat_2.jpg

Which is a cross between an African Serval and a domestic cat.  They are supposedly highly intelligent, trainable, and can even be walked on a leash like a dog.  Unfortunately they cost >$1000, I guess there aren't very many breeders.

The bengal cat I think has some similarities but is not as trainable, and is a cross with the Asian leopard cat:

BengalCat_Stella.jpg

 

Dogs are just too needy for me, and I don't like the way they smell (I have a slight allergy to dog dander), cats wash themselves and poop in a box, you can go on vacation for a week and they are just fine without you as long as they have enough litter boxes and food.

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Gordo,

 

I think you'd love Maine Coons, with the friendliness of a dog but the self-sufficiency of a cat. But if you've got allergies, they aren't the best, since they've got very long hair and shed a lot. They can also grow quite large (up to 35lbs), as this one shows (granted I think the person holding him/her is pretty small - look at the cabinets behind):

 

maine-coon-cats-24__605.jpg

 

And like Savannahs, they are pretty rare and expensive (generally around $1000 - I hate to link to a Dr. Mercola site, but at least he's not endangering people by disseminating what appears to be pretty factual information about Maine Coon Cats!).

 

--Dean

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Please for the love of behaving better here in this worldwide computer simulation consider adopting a beautiful unwanted cat from your local humane society, get that cat off death row, and love that cat like the beautiful spirit that it is:

 

"Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.

 

"Each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats)."

 

http://www.aspca.org/animal-homelessness/shelter-intake-and-surrender/pet-statistics

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Those maine coons look amazing, but there is no way I could tolerate that much hair.  It didn't take long to find some cool kittens today from the local shelter (it doesn't take much to convince me to get a rescue cat instead of spending >$1000 Sthira, haha).  Vader & Unicorn are already contributing to my family's wellbeing:

vader.jpgunicorn.jpg

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Gordo,

 

Congrats on the new editions to your family. That was such a good idea by Sthira to go for shelter cats. So nice you took his suggestion to heart. And it was great of you to get of cats, so they can keep each other company, given the topic of this thread! Assuming they get along, that is...

 

--Dean

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