Almost, (and we always knew this did not we !!) hugs are good for you. Scientific studies have shown that hugs help us. Four hugs are said to be necessary for our survival; eight are proposed as the amount needed for good maintenance, and twelve hugs are said to be the level required for growth. 
Even another more recent study proved that oxytocin levels are increased through hugging, and that this is especially beneficial for women.  Oxytocin is a "bonding" hormone. The hugs also reduced blood pressure in this study, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Actually, you only have to ask any woman and she will agree; most men, although not as needy for hugs, also appreciate a good 20-second hug. 20-seconds may not sound like long, but you certainly get more of a chance over that time to allow the senses of touch, smell and sight to 'feed on' the experience allowing this powerful elixir to pervade the being of both huggee's!
The concept of "cuddle parties" has been mooted as a most platonic sort of orgy that people can engage in to satisfy their need to "bond." Just think about the possibility of being invited to a cuddle party, especially if you're single or have a partner a long way away – could be risky for some and an opportunity for others. It seems we all need a good hug!
Seriously though, these cuddle parties have been arranged and do appear to be above board and of great health benefit to those who partake. Provided in a safe environment, hugs can only be positive.
It seems that like a good laugh, fish, vegetables, and sex; a good old-fashioned hug is something that is such a simple fix for the modern maladies of life. It's 'body ministry.'
Who can you hug? (Make sure you have their blessing though.)
© Copyright 2008, Steven John Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
 Cited and validated by Judith Weisberg and Maxine R. Haberman, "The Therapeutic Hugging Week in a Geriatric Facility," Journal of Gerontological Social Work 13 (1989), p. 181-86.
 Available: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4131508.stm
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