Married people may be likelier to survive cancer: study

September 24, 2013 by Brenda Goodman, Healthday Reporter
Married people may be likelier to survive cancer: study
Social support could be powerful medicine, researchers say.

(HealthDay)—Married cancer patients are less likely to die of their disease than those who aren't wed, a new study suggests.

The study, of more than 730,000 people who were diagnosed with any one of 10 different cancers between 2004 and 2008, is one of the largest ever to look at the link between marital status and health.

Researchers found a strong tie between tying the knot and clearing cancer.

Married people in the study were 20 percent less likely than people who were single, widowed or divorced to die of the disease. They were also more likely to catch their cancer at an early stage and to get appropriate treatment for their disease.

"We were really surprised by the results, how profound a difference it was," said study author Dr. Ayal Aizer, chief resident of Harvard University's radiation oncology program, in Boston.

In some cases, the benefit associated with was bigger than the benefit seen from .

"For half of the cancers we looked at, the benefit of marriage was greater than the benefit conferred by chemotherapy in terms of improving survival," Aizer said.

The benefits of marriage appeared to be more pronounced for men than women. Married men were 23 percent less likely than bachelors to die of cancer, while were around 16 percent more likely than to beat the disease.

The reason? Probably prodding by the partner. Men, even physicians, are reluctant to get exams when symptoms surface.

"In my own personal relationship, my wife has been a key driver of getting me to the doctor on a regular basis," Aizer admitted.

But the study, which was published online Sept. 23 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, doesn't prove that marriage vows are the sole reason that some people beat cancer while others do not. The study only uncovered an association between marriage and better results, not cause-and-effect.

And researchers weren't able to look at whether the quality of a person's marriage played a role in how they battled back .

Other studies that have taken marital quality into account have found that unhappy marriages are also unhealthy ones, said Leslie Schover, a clinical psychologist at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston.

"It isn't quite as cut-and-dried as they make it sound," said Schover, who wasn't involved in the research.

"I think it's reasonable to say that for many people, being married is something that helps them take care of their health," she added.

Other experts agree, saying it's more likely that marriage is a stand-in measure for the kind of crucial support people can receive from close personal relationships.

"It can make a huge difference if someone is there for you during stressful periods like or radiation treatments," said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Ohio State University who studies the impact of marriage on health.

"The success of those treatments is dependent in part on successful completion, and support makes people more likely to adhere to medical advice and finish the treatment as they should," Kiecolt-Glaser said.

Explore further: Marriage associated with better cancer outcomes, study finds

More information: For more information on marriage and health, head to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Related Stories

Marriage associated with better cancer outcomes, study finds

September 23, 2013
People who are married when diagnosed with cancer live longer than those who are not, report researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Married patients also tended to have cancers diagnosed ...

Health benefits of marriage may not extend to all, study says

March 5, 2013
Marriage may not always be as beneficial to health as experts have led us to believe, according to a new study.

Happily married means a healthier ever after

July 3, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—New BYU research finds that people in happy marriages live less "in sickness" but enjoy more of life "in health."

Married lung cancer patients survive longer than single patients after treatment

September 6, 2012
Married patients with locally advanced lung cancer are likely to survive longer after treatment than patients who are single, according to a study by researchers at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum ...

Happily married couples consider themselves healthier, expert says

February 13, 2013
Research shows that married people have better mental and physical health than their unmarried peers and are less likely to develop chronic conditions than their widowed or divorced counterparts. A University of Missouri ...

Recommended for you

Just a few minutes of light intensity exercise linked to lower death risk in older men

February 19, 2018
Clocking up just a few minutes at a time of any level of physical activity, including of light intensity, is linked to a lower risk of death in older men, suggests research published online in the British Journal of Sports ...

Calcium and Vitamin D supplements are not associated with risk of heart attacks

February 16, 2018
New research from the University of Southampton has found no association between the use of calcium or vitamin D supplementation and cardiovascular events such as heart attacks.

Women who clean at home or work face increased lung function decline

February 16, 2018
Women who work as cleaners or regularly use cleaning sprays or other cleaning products at home appear to experience a greater decline in lung function over time than women who do not clean, according to new research published ...

Study shows options to decrease risk of motor vehicle crashes for adolescent drivers

February 16, 2018
Adolescents who receive comprehensive and challenging on-road driving assessments prior to taking the license test might be protected from future motor vehicle crashes, according to a University of Alabama at Birmingham study ...

Being a single dad can shorten your life: study

February 15, 2018
The risk of dying prematurely more than doubles for single fathers compared to single mothers or paired-up dads, according to a study of Canadian families published Thursday.

Keeping an eye on the entire ageing process

February 15, 2018
Medical researchers often only focus on a single disease. As older people often suffer from multiple diseases at the same time, however, we need to rethink this approach, writes Ralph Müller.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.