10 Scientifically Proven Facts We All Need Friends

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Here's something we all should be grateful for: our closest friends. And not just because they pour you a glass of wine when you've had a bad day. Or jump in and babysit in a pinch. It's not even because they make the best brownies EVER or think you're two sizes smaller than you really are. It's because they truly make your entire life better.

This isn't an empty greeting card sentiment. Science says so! Read on for 10 amazing ways your friends make you healthier and happier.

We think #8 is the greatest reason to have friends. What about you?

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  • We Can't Help It

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    Falling into friendship is sort of like falling in love. Sometimes, you just click -- and for reasons you can't quite put into words. Well, scientists at Yale University can. According to their research, we pick friends who share genetic markers with us -- as many as if we were fourth cousins.

  • We Are What Our Friends Eat

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    Our friends influence more than the movies we see or what we watch on TV. They affect our eating, too. If your bestie eats healthy, you're five times more likely to eat healthy, too. That's a lot of kale.

  • A Close Pal Gets You Ahead at Work

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    If you work full-time, you're spending at least 40 hours each week with your co-workers. And so, liking them is a good thing. Not only does having a close friend at the office give you someone to share the latest pics of your kids or ask for a tampon in a time of crisis, but research shows you're seven times more likely to be fully engaged with the work you're doing.

  • More Friends = Less Stress

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    You chat to aquaintances. You dish EVERYTHING to your friends. Being able to spill your guts -- and knowing your closest pals won't get all judgy or roll their eyes at you -- reinforces you're not alone in the world. And you'll feel less stressed as a result.

    More from The Stir: The Age Women Hit Peak Stress Levels Is No Surprise At All

     

  • You'll Live Longer

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    If you live to a ripe old age, you may have your friends to thank. There's plenty of evidence that people who have close pals live longer than those who are socially isolated. One reason? Friendships give you a sense of purpose and meaning. And, you know, someone with whom to hate-watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

  • ...And Your Heart Will Be Healther

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    Yet another reason to truly heart your friends: One study found that socially isolated adults with heart disease had a higher risk of dying because of it than peers who did cultivate friendships.

  • Friendship Can Even Lower the Risk of Some Cancers

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    According to one study, women with ovarian cancer who received tons of support from their friends were less likely to have lower levels of a protein linked with more aggressive cancer. (They also did better with chemo.) Other research has shown that women with breast cancer who join a support group live twice as long as women who don't.

  • You'll Spread the Joy

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    "Smile and the world smiles with you." Sappy? Yes. But it's true! When scientists from Harvard and UC San Diego tracked nearly 5,000 people for 20 years, they found that those surrounded by happy people were more likely to be happy themselves. And in a cool little twist, that happiness is contagious -- by three degrees of separation. (That is, you're also making the friends of your friends' friends happy.)

    More from The Stir: 8 Easy Ways to Boost Your Happiness -- Permanently

  • Your Immune System Will Thank You

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    Loneliness takes a toll on your immune system, according to a 2013 study. Researchers found that peeps without friends caught viruses more quickly. And the lonelier the person, the more compromised their immunity.

  • You'll Have a Better Chance of Doing Your Fifth Grader's Math Homework

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    Whether you and your friends play Words With Friends or text each other NSFW comments about the latest ep of Game of Thrones, your brain is still getting a good workout. Social interaction and support is proven to keep you sharp. (Now's a perfect time to hum the refrain of "With a Little Help from My Friends.")

    More from The Stir: 10 Friends Every Mom Should Have

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