Celibacy and serial ruptures associated with higher levels of inflammation in humans

For a man, living alone for several years and / or experiencing serial romantic breakups would be associated with high levels of inflammatory markers in the blood. At least that’s what emerges from a new scientific study, published on January 10, 2022 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health (Source 1).

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The Danish research team used data from 4,835 participants from the Biobank Copenhagen Aging and Midlife Biobank (CAMB). All were between 48 and 62 years old. The team obtained information on the ruptures experienced by 4,612 people (3,170 men and 1,442 women), and information on the number of years lived alone by 4,835 (3,336 men and 1,499 women) for the period 1986 to 2011. Regarding celibacy, the participants were divided into three groups: less than a year living alone (reference group), 2 to 6 years, and 7 years or more. Any bias factors (age, level of education, weight, medication, traumatic or difficult events, personality) were noted and taken into account.

Verdict: in men, higher levels of inflammatory markers (interleukin 6, or IL-6, and C reactive protein, or CRP) were obtained from those who had experienced the most romantic break-ups. They had levels of inflammatory markers 17% higher than those in the reference group, having lived very little alone. Likewise, levels of inflammatory markers were up to 12% higher in the group who spent the most years living alone (7 years or more). Note that no association of this type was observed in women, although the sample numbered only 1,499.

Although the inflammation was classified as “low grade”, it was found to be persistent and “most likely indicates an increased risk of age-related ill health and death”, Say the researchers. “The inflammation levels in our study are low, but they are also significant, clinically relevant and most likely a risk factor for increased mortality ”, they underline in a press release (Source 2), adding that there is “a noticeable number of people living with low level inflammation”.

For the researchers, men would have an even greater tendency to externalize their sadness, for example by increasing their consumption of alcohol or junk food, where women would be more internalized, via depressive symptoms for example. At least this is their hypothesis to explain why celibacy and serial ruptures are synonymous with inflammation in men and not in women.

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