Love: Studies show physiological effects of emotional support

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Thu Feb 15 12:04:07 EST 2001

subject: Love: Studies show physiological effects of emotional support

from: Smart Marriages

Love: Studies show physiological effects of emotional support
 February 14, 2001

By Jennifer Brennan The Utah Statesman Utah State U.

(U-WIRE) LOGAN, Utah -- Love is in the air. Well, it's supposed to be on
this special holiday. The thought of celebrating Valentine's Day may make
some rejoice and others want to crawl into a black hole.

Whatever the case may be, research findings are showing love can be healthy.

"People who feel loved, or when it's reciprocated, research says they live
longer, happier, have better health and make more money," said Glen Jenson,
Utah State University Family and Human Development professor and extension

Not only do people who feel loved have a better life expectancy, but when
people experience relationships with other people, they are often
experiencing a healthy lifestyle.

"I think we learn lessons by making relationships with other people. It's
good and healthy to be in relationships with other people because you get a
lot of good feedback, Jenson said.

"To have someone who cares for you and loves you, you feel more encouraged,"
Jenson said.

In the other aspect, people who do not experience that encouragement or love
in their life from others may be more prone for depression or loneliness.

For people who don't have people to love them, there tends to be more
depression, loneliness and they don't function near as well in society,
Jenson said.

If loneliness is not what is being searched for, then how can one seek love?

The social settings provide many opportunity to meet other people. The more
we get to know people, we appreciate them and love them more, Jenson said.

Most importantly, you need to learn to love yourself and then find one you
can share that with, Jenson said.

There are different types of love -- Love for money, body size or shape, if
they meet your needs, and the list goes on, Jenson said.

True love is almost all of those things. Just because one is rich may not be
enough, Jenson said.

Aside from emotional health, love can be a benefit to physical health.

Studies have linked love and intimacy to good cardiovascular health.

Yale scientists surveyed 119 men and 40 women before they submitted to
angiography tests.

Those who reported feeling loved and supported were found to have less
blockage in their arteries, according to the Smart Marriages Web site, the
coalition for marriage, family and couples education.

Dean Ornish has done several studies in his book, "Love and Survival," which
is famous for his low-fat diet for reversing heart disease.

"The diet can play a significant role, Ornish said, "but nothing is more
powerful than love and intimacy."

Awareness of loneliness or social isolation is the first step in healing,
Ornish said.

"We don't have actual databases, but my opinion is at least as many people
die from social isolation as smoking and maybe twice as much as deaths
caused by dietary choices," said Redford Williams, director of behavioral
medicine at Duke University in Durham.

In a biological perspective, there is also a hormone of love called

Scientists who work for the research center at the University of California,
San Francisco, have been doing studies on oxytocin.

Oxytocin was shown to be associated with the ability to maintain healthy
interpersonal relationships and healthy psychological boundaries with other
people, according to a July 1999 UCSF news release.

"This is one of the first looks into biological basis for human attachment
and bonding. Our study indicates that oxytocin may be mediating emotional
experiences in close relationships," said Rebecca Turner, UCSF adjunct
assitant professor of psychiatry and lead author of the study.

Whether looking at it from a psychological, physiological or biological
perspective, it holds true that love can benefit health.

(C) 2001 The Utah Statesman via U-WIRE

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