New research has claimed that women who are lonely are more likely to die from returning breast cancer.
The study of nearly 10,000 patients, conducted by the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in California, found that breast cancer survivors who are socially isolated were 60% more likely to die from the disease if it returns than those who are more socially active.
The research also found that lonely women – including some who are married but do not see their friends – had a 40% higher chance of the disease returning in the first place.
Authors of the study wrote that women who have strong and regular engagements with friends and relatives could help doctors in the future when it comes to a patient’s prognosis.
But researcher Dr Candyce Kroenke said that while the findings “confirm the generally beneficial influence of women’s social ties on breast cancer recurrence and mortality”, they also suggest that “not all social ties are beneficial and not in all women”.
She added: “Relatives can work both ways.
“They can help with health, but if you are already looking after a relative that might get in the way of cancer treatment.”
The study, published in the Cancer journal, tracked 9,267 women with breast cancer for an average of 10 and a half years after their diagnosis.
It found that there were 1,448 cancer recurrences, and 1,521 deaths – 990 of which were caused by breast cancer.
Top pic: PA