The new study followed almost 1500 Australians, initially aged over 70. Those who at the start reported regular close personal or phone contact with five or more friends were 22% less likely to die in the next decade than those who had reported fewer, more-distant friends. But the presence or absence of close ties with children or other relatives had no impact on survival.Which all flies in the face of conventional wisdom, that supportive, tightly-knit families are the key to health and happiness. Though the explanation for this could be that it is not so much a truth as a manifestation of an evolved cultural response to the environment, a mantra of family-values repeatedly recited to counterbalance the ambient irritation of interaction with family members and reinforce stable social structures.
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