Friends Can Save Your Life

You get by with a little help from your friends -- and live longer too.

Having a large circle of friends helps fight breast cancer, lessen the risk of heart attack, and keep brains active and healthy in old age, according to studies reported by The New York Times.

Friendship is essential to our survival - it plays a greater role in someone's health than their spouse or other family member, some researchers claim.

“People with stronger friendship networks feel like there is someone they can turn to,” Karen A. Roberto, director of the center for gerontology at Virginia Tech, told the Times.

“Friendship is an undervalued resource. The consistent message of these studies is that friends make your life better,” she said.

What studies have shown:

  • Older people with a large posse were 22 percent less likely to die during the study's 10-year period than their less popular compatriots.
  • A lack of social support increases the risk of heart attack according to a six-year study of 736 Swedish men.
  • University of Virginia students hiking up a hill with heavy backpacks reported lower estimates of the hill's size if they had made the trip with friends.  

Just remember to keep up relationships with your real friends, not just those on Twitter. Or, for that matter, on Craigslist.

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