What’s love got to do with it?

Deborah L. Hopla, DNP, APRN-BC

     February has Valentine’s Day as a reminder for us to turn our hearts to the one (or ones) we love. Love causes release of adrenaline, phenethylamine, dopamine and oxytocin. These chemicals cause our hearts to beat fast, our palms to sweat and a feeling of euphoria comes over us. Testosterone levels increase in both men and women which further drives the engine of our love. Our pupils dilate, showing our positive emotional feelings. Studies done at the University of Delaware found that having jealousy literally “blinds” the one who is jealous.

     Love reduces damaging cortisol levels that are linked to increased visceral fat and risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Cuddling or prolonged hugging someone you love increases oxytocin and lowers our blood pressure.

    According to Scott Haltzman, M.D., clinical assistant professor at Brown University in Providence, RI, states: “being married increases our longevity.” In a study he conducted he stated: “90 percent of married women who were alive at age 45 make it to age 65…while “mortality rates are 50 percent higher for unmarried women.” Men have even more startling statistics. Men who were alive at 48 had a “90 percent chance of reaching 65 if they were married but only a 60 to 70 percent chance if they were single.” His research reported that even if a man had heart disease, if he were married he lived “four years longer” than a single man with the same type of heart disease. According to Dr. Haltzman,“Cancer cures are eight to 17 percent more successful when a patient is married.”

     So this spring when thoughts turn to love know that it is good for your mind, heart and soul. Physical touch is beneficial for our sense of well-being. Love is in the air and it is a good thing. Learn to love others, but most of all learn to love yourself. It is good for your body and your well-being.