Study Finds Surprising Connection Between Living Alone and Cancer


It turns out having roommates might be beneficial to your health. A new study published in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer journal found that adults who live alone have a much higher chance of dying from cancer

Researchers from the American Cancer Society wanted to explore just how this phenomenon plays out across different populations in the country. Overall, U.S. adults who live alone have a 32-percent higher risk of cancer death than those who live with other people. The risk was even higher for men at 38 percent. Adults aged 45 to 64 who live alone are especially susceptible, with a 43-percent higher risk of cancer death than those who live with others. 

It’s not the first study to show an association between living alone and dying from cancer, but it dives deep into finding disparities between sex, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Study author Dr. Hyunjung Lee explained that the purpose of this study was to find exactly which groups of people are the most prone to cancer mortality. 

“Findings in this study underscore the significance of addressing living alone in the general population and among cancer survivors and call for interventions to reduce adverse effects of living alone and social isolation,” Lee said of the conclusions.

In general, adults living alone were more likely to be older, male, have incomes below the federal poverty line, and dealing with possible health issues like obesity, cigarette smoking, and consuming alcohol. The association between living alone and dying from cancer was especially stronger among white adults and adults with higher education levels than for racial or ethnic minorities and adults with lower education.

Related: New Study Reveals Easy Solution for Lowering Cancer Risk

Looking toward the future, Lee hopes that the research will prompt medical professionals to take people’s living situations into account when caring for them. 

“These results reflect the need for more resources and appropriate training for clinicians, integrated screening for living alone and social isolation, and more research to identify and implement interventions that could reduce adverse effects of living alone and social isolation,” Lee said. “Some examples include patient navigation programs for this population to increase uptake of and adherence to cancer screening, timely diagnosis, treatment, and attendance of medical appointments, and the inclusion of this group among high priority groups for services based on screenings for the health-related social needs.”

Let the research be a reminder to always check in on your friends who live alone. 

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