What Social Media Does to Our Bodies
- New research suggests that overusing social media can lead people to have higher levels of a blood protein connected to chronic inflammation, and an advanced risk of cancers, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
- The study examined students between the ages of 18 and 24. Students who overused social media made more trips to the doctor, and they even reported experiencing more head pain, chest pain, and back pain.
- The study’s authors emphasize the connection between the mind and physical health, and they call for more research into the ways that mental health can impact the body.
New research from researchers in Buffalo, New York draws a connection between excessive social media use and poor physical health. A study of students found that those who spent more time on social media had higher levels of a blood protein associated with chronic inflammation. The protein can also be a warning sign for cancers, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.Read More
The study was published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking and it surveyed a group of 251 undergraduate students between 18 and 24-years-old, combining data from blood samples and questionnaires.
Dr. Lee is interested in studying how social interactions and interpersonal relationships can influence health and well-being. He notes that one of the main ways that people use social media is to maintain old relationships and to foster new ones. Research has long held that strong social bonds can aid physical health, so it makes sense that social media can influence health—but it often seems to work in the opposite direction.
Dr. Lee is careful to point out that different people use social media differently. “For instance, people who use social media actively to connect with others tend to benefit from using it; people who use it passively just to browse do not,” he told Insider. “We also find in a separate research that the impact of social media use varies for different individuals.”
The study acknowledges that too much social media use can boost stress levels, harm sleep patterns, and lead people to neglect other healthier habits like exercising or spending time with friends and family. Dr. Lee calls for more research on the link between mental health and physical health. we should start paying attention to the possibility that some of the earlier research on social media use and mental health may give us clues for potential physical health effects,” he said.
SurvivorNet’s experts and members of the broader survivor community discuss strategies for maintaining a positive headspace while fighting cancer.
Mental Health for Cancer Patients
During a cancer journey, many people encounter mental health struggles, in large and small forms. It’s very normal to feel grief, anxiety, depression, and overwhelm after a cancer diagnosis. It’s important to be kind to yourself during your mental health struggles and to reach out for help. In an earlier interview, licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Marianna Strongin speaks with us about the importance of caring for mental health during a cancer battle, particularly during treatment.
Dr. Strongin says, “As you work your way through treatment the way in which you coach yourself is critical. Studies have found that positive self-talk significantly reduces anxiety, improves resilience and confidence, and allows us to be connected with others.”
She explains that working through cancer treatment is an act of courage, and your self-talk should reflect that with love and admiration. “As you courageously make your way through this chemotherapy it is critical that your self-talk is supportive, patient, and overall kind,” says Dr. Strongin. “There will be moments of intense pain, discomfort, and even setbacks. Your body may be saying ‘no more’ but your mind has the power to kindly say, ‘you got this, one foot in front of the other, this pain is temporary.'”
“During chemotherapy, many people experience a breakdown between the mind and body,” she explains. “I strongly suggest you create an internal dialogue that connects your body and mind even when it feels difficult. Guiding your body through the pain with your mind will make you feel more in control, focused on the present, and give you a greater understanding and appreciation for your strength.”
Contributing: Anne McCarthy