Being a party animal is good for you!

Scientists in the US say that being the life and soul of the party apart from being great fun could be good for the heart.

In a study linking loneliness with furred-up arteries researchers found that men who were socially isolated had raised levels of a blood chemical linked to heart disease.The cell signalling protein, interleukin-6 (IL-6), is known to promote the inflammation that helps artery walls to thicken and harden, and this can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

The researchers studied 3267 men, with an average age of 62, who underwent physical examinations and answered a series of questions about their social lives, if they were single or married, how many friends and relatives they knew whom they could confide in and the extent of their participation in group activities and religious meetings or services.

The men were then given a social network score of one to four and isolated men were found to be at the bottom of the scale, and those who were highly connected at the top.

Interestingly the researchers found that the average level of IL-6 in the blood of men with a score of one was 3.85 picograms per millilitre. Men with a social network score of four had a level of 3.52 picograms.

Dr Eric Loucks, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, lead researcher says this is a statistically significant difference, and suggests that it may be good for the heart and good for health to have close friends and family, to be connected to community groups or religious organisations, and to have a close partner.

The researchers say the same link was not found for women.

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