A new study at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh confirms
how college challenges both mind and body, by demonstrating that lonely first-year
students mounted a weaker immune response to the flu shot than did other students.
The study suggests that loneliness undermines the immune system. Social isolation (measured by size of social network) also has an effect – but interestingly the two effects were independent, so both objective and subjective aspects
of social life appear related to health.
As one of the researchers said, "You can have very
few friends but still not feel lonely. Alternatively, you can have many friends
yet feel lonely."