Marriage is good for your health

Published 10:00 pm Monday, May 9, 2016

Getting married is easy, especially when we’re younger. Staying married and sustaining a loving relationship for decades takes work and commitment. Remaining married is not always easy, but today, even science is telling us that there are benefits to married couples if one or both partners are dealing with cancer or heart disease. Often one of the benefits to married couples is in their combined economic resources, and there’s little doubt that financial strength is a factor in healthcare options and ultimately a partner’s longevity.

Looking at research studies reported in the journal Cancer, it appears that cancer patients who are married have longer survival rates than unmarried individuals. The reasons are many and often include differences such as married couples are more likely to pursue healthier diets and eating behavior; they tend to be involved in more physical activities, are more likely to actively participate in health-prevention measures like cancer screenings, and because of a spouse’s support and encouragement, often opt for more aggressive treatment protocols.

In one California study, researchers identified over 783,000 patients who had been diagnosed with invasive cancer between the years 2000 and 2009, and those patients were assessed based on “marital status, age, sex, address, race/ethnicity, economic status, year of cancer diagnosis and date of treatment initiation…” and were subsequently monitored until 2012. The results were surprising. Among unmarried men the death rate from their cancers was 27 percent higher and women 19 percent higher than married men and women with the same forms of cancer.

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The research also found that ethnicity plays a role in cancer survival with Caucasian men and women benefitting the most from marriage and Hispanics and Asians, particularly if born outside of the United States, benefitting less.

For adults with heart disease, similar results were found, particularly regarding recovery and survival rates after interventional cardiac surgery. In a study published in JAMA Surgery, “Among more than 1,500 adults who underwent a cardiac intervention, those who were divorced, separated or widowed were more likely to have died or develop a new functional disability after the surgery, compared with the married participants.”

It seems that married men, especially those who marry after age 25, are healthier and live longer and the longer a man stays married, the greater his survival advantage.

Another study was conducted by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania of participants who had undergone cardiac surgery. Of the 1576 participants, 65 percent were married at the time of the study, 12 percent divorced or separated, 21 percent widowed, and 2 percent had never been married.

The results indicated that being married correlates to better outcomes from surgery. In fact, according to the research results, “Participants who were divorced, separated or widowed had an approximately 40 percent greater chance of dying or developing a new functional disability during the first two years after cardiac surgery, compared with the married participants.

The logical takeaway from these studies seems to be that being married is good for your health.

Ron Kauffman is a consultant and expert speaker on issues of aging, Medicare and Obamacare. Ron is the author of Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease, available as a Kindle book on His podcasts can be heard weekly at Contact Ron at (828) 696-9799 or by email at