Good friends can be good for your health

Paula Wolfson,

WASHINGTON – Having a good group of friends can be good for your health, and that’s not just a old wives’ tale.

There is some serious research that shows the benefits of having a strong network of friends, and that the pluses are far greater than most of us realize.

A study conducted by the Centre for Ageing Studies at Flinders University in Australia showed people with a large network of friends lived longer than those with the smallest network of friends.

The study followed nearly 1,500 people that were 70 or older for ten years.

No one is exactly sure why this is so, but the authors of the study suggest good friends discourage unhealthy behavior, like smoking and heavy drinking. They may also help ward off depression and stress.

An 1989 study at Stanford University found that women with breast cancer who took took part in social activities, such as support groups, lived twice as long as those who didn’t.

Dr. Sheldon Cohen, Director of the Study of Stress, Immunity and Disease at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, tells WebMD that people with a strong support network have an easier time getting through adverse events, and have higher self-esteem.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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