Call an old friend or catch up over lunch, because if you’re lonely, you are more prone to illness, according to a recent study reported by the BBC yesterday.

Certain genes, which can cause tissue inflammation and damage to the immune system, were more active in people who reported feelings of social isolation, according to a study by the University of California , Los Angeles (UCLA).

Click here to read the BBC story

Researchers studied 14 volunteers, assessed their level of social interaction using a scoring system and found that the quality, not quantity, of friendships, is most important to a healthy life, based on the genetic activity in their white blood cells.

The lonelier volunteers’ genes tended to be more inflamed compared with those at the opposite end of the scoring scale. Too much inflammation can damage tissues and cause disease. Other genes, known to be important in fighting viruses and producing immune antibodies, were also less active compared with the non-lonely volunteers.