Feelings of extreme loneliness can increase a person’s chances of dying prematurely by 17 percent, according to a new study conducted by University of Chicago researcher John Cacioppo.

Cacioppo’s research found people who don’t have connected relationships with others can lose their ability to bounce back after encountering adversity or stress. That can result in depression, high blood pressure, sleeplessness and elevated cortisone levels. These problems can increase a person’s chances of premature death by a rate that is nearly twice as high as the increased risk caused by obesity, Cacioppo found.

— From staff reports