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When it comes to living a long life, we may do better with a little help from our friends. Hi, I'm Dr. Cindy Haines, host of HealthDay TV. For several years, experts have been finding that a lack of social relationships may be harmful to our health. A new study sheds even more light on the importance of companionship. Researchers compiled 148 studies... including more than 300,000 participants... that looked at social relationships and the risk of death. Together, these studies found that people with stronger social connections had a 50 percent increased chance of survival. The effect of social ties on the risk of death is comparable to quitting smoking, according to the researchers. They say having good relationships might influence our health-related habits, and help determine whether or not we develop depression. Having good social support has also been linked to better immune function. As a result, the study concludes it may be time for us to include social relationships when we think about the factors that affect our health, like diet and exercise. IÕm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV, with the news that doctors are reading; health news that matters to you.