Inheritable Trait? Loneliness may be in your DNA - study has found

The study, conducted by a group of researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, USA, also found that our environment influence our feelings profoundly.

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A new study has found loneliness could be in your gene.

The study, conducted by a group of researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, USA, also found that our environment influences our feelings profoundly.

Factors such as education, poverty and physical health made up the rest.

This is not the first a study has been initiated to establish the cause of loneliness but this latest investigation published in the Neuropsychopharmacology is the largest so far.

It looked at the genetics of 10,760 people aged over 50 years old to see if there was any link to how lonely they felt over their lifetime, rather than just occasionally due to circumstance.

The data was collected by the Health and Retirement Study.

play The study, conducted by a group of researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, USA, also found that our environment influence our feelings profoundly.

 

Participants were asked the following questions without explicitly mentioning “lonely.”

  • How often do you feel that you lack companionship?

  • How often do you feel left out?

  • How often do you feel isolated from others?

The research team led by Dr Abraham Palmer found that 27 percent of people who responded to loneliness had the same genetic predisposition.

Previous study on loneliness put the estimates at 37 percent to 55 percent but Dr Palmer opines that his team surveyed older adults in the US while other findings looked into younger adults in Europe.

“For two people with the same number of close friends and family, one might see their social structure as adequate while the other doesn't,” Dr Palmer said. “And that's what we mean by ‘genetic predisposition to loneliness’ - we want to know why, genetically speaking, one person is more likely than another to feel lonely, even in the same situation.”

Loneliness has been associated with numerous negative health outcomes.

The study concluded that “Loneliness is a heritable trait” pass down by family members.

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