Good friends are good for you!

Friendship really can make you feel better, live longer beat cancer and even relieve pain, says the latest research.

A cluster of new studies has found that good friendships can help you live longer, relieve pain and even help beat cancer.

A recent study in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons found that people feel less pain if they have a lot of friends. But it’s not as simple as just adding as many people as possible on Facebook.

The study found that they don’t have to be really close friends – just meeting a not-so-close friend for a mojito or a quick latte can have a positive effect on your health.

If you’re recovering from an operation, having good friends around you can help you get better. Likewise, the emotional support of good friends can also protect us a little from the aftershocks of bereavement, divorce and dementia.

The benefit of friendship doesn’t stop at pain relief and emotional health though, new studies reveal that friends can also help you live longer.

The Centre for Ageing Studies at Flinders University in Australia, conducted a study where they followed 1,500 older people for 10 years. The study found that those who had a large network of friends outlived those who had the fewest friends by 22%

So why do friends help us live longer? Researchers suspect it’s because good friends discourage unhealthy behaviour such as smoking and heavy drinking. Plus, friendship can ward off depression and boost self-esteem. There is also the fact that as we age we tend to know what or who we do and do not like, and so we’re more likely to spend time with the people we really want to spend time with.

It’s not just longevity and pain relief that friends can help with, research into friendship and its impact on cancer has found that good friends can help too.

In the journal Cancer, 61 women who had ovarian cancer were monitored. Those who had higher levels of social support had much lower levels of a protein linked to a more aggressive form of cancer. Likewise, a study into women with breast cancer found that those who attended more support groups lived twice as long as those who didn’t.

We don’t need any more reasons to have fun with our great friends but knowing that being a good friend can help us live longer and feel better is just another excuse for a night on the tiles!

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