Marriage is good for your health, large study suggests

Married people have better general health than those who are single, according to research at Aston Medical School in Birmingham.

The study, on almost a million British adults with high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes, found that married people in their 50s, 60s and 70s with high cholesterol were 16 per cent more likely to be alive at the end of the 14-year study period.

They were also found to be more likely to survive high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

The researchers say that the protective effects of marriage ‘likely result from increased social support leading to healthier lifestyles and increased medication compliance’.

‘Our findings suggest a need for increased social support for single patients with modifiable cardiovascular risk factors.’

The study’s lead author, Dr Paul Carter, said: ‘We need to unpick the underlying reasons a bit more, but it appears there’s something about being married that is protective, not only in patients with heart disease but also those with heart disease risk factors.

‘We’re not saying that everyone should get married though. We need to replicate the positive effects of marriage and use friends, family and social support networks in the same way.’

Previous research has suggested that the health benefits of marriage are greater for men than for women.

Instant analysis
For many years there has been anecdotal evidence that marriage is good for your health without clear evidence as to why this should be the case. This large study presented at the British Cardiovascular Society conference now points towards possible reasons why.

It found that men and women in their 50s, 60s and 70s with high cholesterol levels were 16 per cent more likely to be alive at the end of the 14-year study if they were married rather than single, with the same being true for diabetes and high blood pressure.

It is postulated that the apparent protective effects of marriage arise from increased social support leading to healthier lifestyles, along with increased medication compliance.
Research score: 4/5
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  • Brian Quinn

    There might be a few divorced people who would disagree.