May 5, 2023 – “We now know that loneliness is a common feeling that many people experience. It’s like hunger or thirst. It’s a feeling the body sends us when something we need for survival is missing,” Murthy told The Associated Press (AP), referring to a recent 81-page report on the half of Americans who say they have experienced loneliness. “Millions of people in America are struggling in the shadows, and that’s not right. That’s why I issued this advisory to pull back the curtain on a struggle that too many people are experiencing.”

A recent study by the National Institute on Aging found that the health risks of being isolated for a lengthy period of time are equivalent to those of smoking 15 cigarettes a day. This is because social isolation and loneliness are believed to shorten a person’s life span by up to 15 years, as well as place them at increased risk of not exercising well, having a poor diet, not sleeping well and needing to be admitted to emergency rooms and/or nursing homes. The Health Resources and Services Administration found that poor exercise and sleeping habits increase isolated and lonely people’s risk of stroke by 32%, of heart disease by 29%, and of premature mortality in general by 26%.