6 Facts That Prove Friends Are Ridiculously Healthy For Us

According to science, friends can make us happier, healthier, and yes, even more beautiful.

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Friends make hills seem less steep

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And not just in a metaphorical sense. In a fascinating study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, participants estimated a hill to be less steep when they were accompanied by a friend than when they were alone. What's more, the longer the friends knew each other, the less steep the incline seemed.

Friends make you look more attractive

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A small study from the University of California, San Diego, suggests that the cheerleader effect—the idea that you look more attractive in a group than you do alone—might be true. When researchers asked 139 college students to rank the general attractiveness of people in a group photo, then to rank one person from the group when shown his/her photo individually, the individual photos were ranked 5.5 percent less attractive.

Buddies help you battle cancer

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In a 2005 study published in the journal Cancer, women with ovarian cancer who had adequate social support (read: a lot of friends) had an average of 70 percent less interleukin-6, a blood protein that can reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy, than patients with fewer friends.

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Loneliness is bad for your health

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When Julianne Holt-Lunstad, associate professor of psychology at Brigham Young University analyzed data from nearly 150 studies of social relationships and mortality for a paper published in PLOS Medicine a few years ago, she uncovered a startling statistic: A weak social circle can take a toll on your longevity—comparable to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. "We need to start taking our social relationships more seriously," Holt-Lunstad said in a statement. "The effect of this is comparable to obesity, something that public health takes very seriously."

Close friends share DNA

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You might wish your BFF could be your sister; now a recent study suggests that close friends share about one percent of their DNA, making them as close genetically as fourth cousins. Researchers from Yale University and the University of California San Diego analyzed data from nearly 2,000 people and found that the "chemistry" that draws friends together may stem from shared DNA. This could help explain the evolution of friendship.

Babies understand friendship

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Friendship might be so essential to our well-being, even young babies can understand social relationships—before they can walk or talk, according to a 2014 study from the University of Chicago. The research team showed 64 nine-month-olds two videos. In one, two people ate a food and each reacted positively or negatively. In the other, the same two people greeted each other warmly or by turning their backs on one another. When the reactions didn't match—both people had the same reaction to the food, but greeted each other coldly—the babies stared at the screen longer, a sign that things didn't seem quite right. "Infants are able to watch strangers interact and then make inferences about whether those two people are likely to be friends," Amanda Woodward, the study's co-author, told The Huffington Post.


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