Girlfriends on the beachSeriously. Friendships are important. REALLY important.

Friendships keep us healthy, happier, less-stressed and live longer. Want more friends? Be a better friend! And, read more from this article on Oprah.com. Then, take care of your health – go spend time with a friend!

Good Friends Are Good for You

By Tom Valeo

Lots of research has shown the health benefits of social support.

One such study, reported in the journal Cancer, followed 61 women with advanced ovarian cancer. Those with ample social support had much lower levels of a protein linked to more aggressive types of cancer. Lower levels of the protein, known as interleukin 6, or IL-6, also boosted the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Women with weak social support had levels of IL-6 that were 70 percent higher in general, and two-and-a-half times higher in the area around the tumor.

In 1989, David Spiegel, MD, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, published a landmark paper in Lancet. It showed that women with breast cancer who participated in a support group lived twice as long as those who didn’t. They also had much less pain.

Sheldon Cohen, PhD, a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, has shown that strong social support helps people cope with stress.

Friends help you face adverse events,” Cohen tells WebMD. “They provide material aid, emotional support, and information that helps you deal with the stressors. There may be broader effects as well. Friends encourage you to take better care of yourself. And people with wider social networks are higher in self-esteem, and they feel they have more control over their lives.”

Other studies have shown that people with fewer friends tend to die sooner after having a heart attack than people with a strong social network. Having lots of friends may even reduce your chances of catching a cold. That’s true even though you’re probably exposed to more viruses if you spend a lot of time with others.

“People with social support have fewer cardiovascular problems and immune problems, and lower levels of cortisol—a stress hormone,” says Tasha R. Howe, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Humboldt State University. “Why? The evolutionary argument maintains that humans are social animals, and we have evolved to be in groups. We have always needed others for our survival. It’s in our genes. Therefore, people with social connections feel more relaxed and at peace, which is related to better health.”

From article: Good Friends Are Good for You.

Want to feel better? Healthier? Even prettier? Spend time with a girlfriend. Call up your BFF and catch up on life and some laughs. Be a better friend!

And – check out: Girlfriends are good for your health!

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