What Role Does Loneliness Play in Diabetes Risk?
A few studies of the impact of loneliness on endocrine disorders are starting to appear. A study from two military hospitals in Saudi Arabia identified a cohort of patients with treated hypothyroidism. The researchers administered a validated standard survey to assess the severity of loneliness. They found a correlation between duration of hypothyroidism and loneliness score. The prevalence of loneliness among their group of 231 levothyroxine users was 16%. The sample was small relative to the larger US and Chinese studies so it could not capture some of the widely accepted correlations with age and smoking. This study did not separate causes of hypothyroidism into autoimmune and postsurgical groups, nor did it distinguish between undertreated disease and therapeutic replacement therapy, so much remains to be explored.
@kankana An extensive 2015 review of chronic medical conditions and loneliness found only a single study examining the contribution of loneliness to diabetes risk but found considerably more linking loneliness to metabolic syndrome. Although progression from metabolic syndrome to diabetes is well established, the extent to which it takes place among those with preexisting loneliness remains inconclusive. One study, published in 2020, includes data from the ongoing English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. This study has been collecting loneliness data since 2004 and reassesses participants every 2 years. This study also distinguishes between social isolation, measured by living arrangements, and the subjective symptom of loneliness, assessed by a standardized, validated questionnaire. Participants who did not have diabetes in 2006, either by personal statement or by elevated A1c, were followed for onset of diabetes over the next 10 years. At the end of the time period, about 6.4% of the 4112 participants had acquired diabetes. Compared with those who remained euglycemic, participants who developed diabetes had greater risks for preexisting depression, higher body mass index, hypertension, and risks for financial constraints. Loneliness scores also offered a statistically significant risk, though scores for social isolation, as they defined it, did not.