Imagine a condition so bad for your health, it reduces your life expectancy as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It weakens your immune system and carries an increased risk of dementia and heart disease. It even causes your wounds to heal more slowly and hurts your ability to recover from cancer.

There is one: loneliness.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has been warning about the health effects of what he calls a "loneliness epidemic” since at least 2017, but his clarion call is carrying further these days, thanks in part to a perfectly timed new book and months of COVID-19-induced isolation.