Friday, July 11, 2014
Good Friends = Long Lives
A recent Harvard Public Health Magazine 50-year longitudinal study discovered that having a tight-knit social support network including good neighbors, close family and friendships actually boosts physical immunity to disease and increases longevity. Chair of Harvard's Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Ichiro Kawachi, tells the story of Roseto, Pennsylvania, a close-knit Italian immigrant town full of laborers with bad diets, lacking exercise, high cholesterol, and high smoking rates, who strangely had half the heart-disease and longer lives than all neighboring towns! After all considerations were taken into account, the study concluded that Roseto's highly gregarious social milieu and egalitarian ethos were the sole-factors contributing to their unusually positive results. Kawachi describes the study in the following short video, and Amy Gutman extrapolates what these economically harsh and socially unstable times mean for our health in her article, Failing Economy, Failing Health.