Whatever the cause may be, it is not just a single study that reveals this surprising link. While it is a relatively new research topic, a growing body of evidence leads to the same conclusion: loneliness harms your health. On the flip side, the benefits of a fulfilling social life appear to be significant regardless of age or gender, as reported by the Stanford School of Medicine. In one of the larger reviews, researchers from Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina analyzed data from 148 studies (over 300,000 participants) to compare social interaction and health outcomes. People with poor social connections had a 50% higher risk of death on average—loneliness had practically the same negative impact as smoking, researchers concluded, and comparable to other well-known risk factors.