Other research suggests the health benefits of social support. One study, published in the journal Cancer, followed 61 women with advanced ovarian cancer. The women with lots of social support had much lower levels of a protein linked to more aggressive types of cancer, and higher levels of a protein that boosted the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
In 1989, David Spiegel, MD, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, published an influential paper in Lancet, showing that women with breast cancer who participated in a support group lived twice as long as those who didn’t and reported much less pain. Sheldon Cohen, PhD, a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has shown that strong social support helps people cope with stress. Other studies have demonstrated that less connected people tend to die sooner after having a heart attack than people with a strong social network and that having a large social network may even reduce chances of catching a cold, even though you’re probably exposed to more viruses when spending lots of time with others.
“Friends help you face adverse events,” Dr. Sheldon Cohen says. “They provide material aid, emotional support, and information that helps you deal with the stressors. There may be broader effects as well. Friends encourage you to take better care of yourself. And people with wider social networks are higher in self-esteem, and they feel they have more control over their lives.”
Take advantage of these findings by increasing your social network! There are plenty of people out there to strike up a friendship with and plenty of health benefits to look forward to as your friendships blossom.