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Women: Live Long & Healthy?Make Friends

Weight, cholesterol and blood pressure are all important.For men,marriage leadsto a healthier old age than remaining single. But this isn'tnecessarily true for women. For them, having plenty offriends is associated with a dramatically lower risk ofsuffering a heart attack or stroke, landing in the hospitalor dying from heart disease. In contrast to this, women whodo not have strong relationships with other women are morethan twice as likely to die.

These findings are based on more than 30 years of medicalresearch that reinforces the relationship between the mindand major illnesses, including cancer, dementia and viralinfections. Scientists know that married men and women livelonger, and they theorize that larger social networks lessendisease risk by reducing negative health habits such assmoking, by boosting immune system due to the pleasure ofbeing in the company of people you like.

Marriage proved beneficial for women in a recent study, butsimply having one or two casual friends also was associatedwith even better health outcomes. The larger the socialcircle, the healthier the women were.

Cardiologist Carl Pepine says, "It's important to recognizethat for centuries there has been a group that believesthere's a strong interaction between the mind and the heart,though the exact relationships are not clear. In my view,the No. 1 take-home message is that if you're a woman withchest discomfort, have a lot of friends."

Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

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