Facebook and MySpace: Raising the risk of cancer?

A psychologist claims that spending too much time on social-networking sites raises your risk of serious illness. It's not psychological; it's biological.

Biology is an extremely messy thing. It makes you do things you regret in the morning--and sometimes things you regret seconds after you've been arrested.

Yet according to psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman, biology may be a crucial reason why too much time on Facebook and MySpace might leave you at greater risk of deathly diseases like cancer and dementia.

Apparently, if you spend too many hours interacting (socially) alone, your immune system, your hormone levels--in short, the whole chemical box of your entrails--gets just a little messed up. And when the chemicals start to misconcoct, bad things can happen.

Dr. Sigman believes that society as a whole has experienced a significant reduction in face-to-face time over the last 20 years. Writing in Biologist, the journal of the Institute of Biology, he is very clear about the cuddle chemical.

Its technical name is oxytocin (not to be at all confused with OxyContin). And it's a fine hormone that, in your fellow man's physical presence, encourages you to hug him, your fellow woman or, indeed, your fellow rottweiler.

Dr. Sigman insists that cuddle chemical levels radically change (not for the better) when you're agreeing to send your life savings to Ludmila, the Deland, Fla., native you may have just met on MySpace.

"There does seem to be a difference between 'real presence' and the virtual variety," Dr. Sigman told the Daily Mail.

This is what happens when your cuddle chemicals desert you. (That's what I imagine, anyway) CC R Marin

I am not in a position to question Dr. Sigman. I am alone in a New York hotel room, praying that my Golden State Warriors can somehow force the Lakers' Phil Jackson to regrow his mustache live on TV. However, my evident chemical imbalance has allowed me to discover some more of Dr. Sigman's work.

In 2005, he appears to have penned a piece for the Daily Mail entitled "How TV is (quite literally) killing us." Reading it made my cuddle chemicals curdle, as the doctor declared that watching "even moderate amounts of television" may lead to "damaged brain cell development and function."

Dr. Sigman also points out that TV "is the only adult pastime from the ages of 20 to 60 positively linked to developing Alzheimer's disease." (Ah, that had slipped my mind.)

Oh, and it seems quite clear that it's also "a direct cause of obesity--a bigger factor even than eating junk food or taking too little exercise." (I will run all the way up Madison Ave., straight after the game.) And let's not forget that TV "may biologically trigger premature puberty." (Too late.)

I suddenly want to cuddle Dr. Sigman for a prolonged period of time. It may be the only way to prevent him from altering my chemicals (not for the better) any further.