(SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE) Feeling lonely always hurts, but when it comes to the elderly, it may actually contribute to failing health or an early death, UCSF researchers say.

In a study of 1,600 seniors, the results of which were published Tuesday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, doctors found that people who reported being lonely were more likely to suffer a decline in health or die over a six-year period than those who were content with their social lives.

Loneliness didn’t necessarily mean being alone – almost two-thirds of seniors who reported feeling lonely were married or living with a partner. Researchers defined loneliness as feeling left out or isolated or lacking companionship.

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