Jim Heath

Can an emotion shorten your lifespan? Absolutely, says former U.S. surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy. Something that millions of us feel every single day has now become a pervasive medical condition, and it’s linked to arthritis, diabetes, dementia and heart disease. We’re talking about loneliness, a condition that makes you 50 percent more likely to die prematurely.

Murthy warns that it can be as deadly as tobacco. “Smoking 15 cigarettes a day will reduce your lifespan to about the same extent that loneliness will,” he says. And if we don’t change the way we think about loneliness and treat it as a legitimate medical condition, Murthy warns, things could get a lot worse in the future.