Social stress unhealthy?
The study involved grey parrots. These are very social birds in the wild, but in captivity they are often housed alone. The investigators compared the telomeres of birds kept alone with birds housed with another of their kind. That older birds had shorter telomeres than younger birds is logical because the older animals have undergone more cell divisions. The more interesting comparison was between birds of similar ages living with or without companions. That birds housed alone had shorter telomeres suggests that social stress also influences telomere length. Research on humans seems to point in this direction as well: people experiencing severe social stress and those suffering losses had shorter telomeres.