Marriage is good for health

Los Angeles: Marriage is good for your health, according to a new US study.

Researchers from the University of California say that men who never marry are more likely to die an early death than women who remain single. The findings are based on the national census and death certificates of neraly 67,000 adults in the US between 1989 and 1997.

Similarly those who are widowed, divorced or separated are also more prone to an early grave. The study is published in the British Medical Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Bachelors aged between 19 and 44 are more than twice as likely to die than their married male peers.

Professor Robert Kaplan, who led the research, said that the evidence suggested that social isolation increases the risk of premature death.

After taking into account factors such as age, the researchers established that those who had been widowed in 1989 were almost 40 per cent more likely to die within the eight-year period than their married counterparts.

Those who had been divorced or separated were 27 per cent more likely to die.

However, those who had never been married were a staggering 58 per cent more likely to die during the period than their peers who were married and still living with their spouses in 1989.

At the start of the study period, almost one in two of the sample group were married, and almost one in ten were widowed.

About 12 per cent were divorced and 3 per cent separated.

The study found that for the younger age group, the main causes of death among those who had never married were infectious diseases such as HIV.

Among the middle aged and elderly, the main causes were heart disease and long-term illnesses.

Researchers say that those who marry have the advantage of being ‘socially connected’ which increases life expectancy.

Professor Kaplan said: ‘Our study raises a series of new questions.

‘Firstly, we found that having never been married is a better predictor of poor health outcomes than either divorce or widowhood.

‘And secondly, the impact of social isolation is not constrained to the elderly.’

Co-author Dr Richard Kronick added: ‘The study shows that marriage appears to help people live longer.

‘This could be because people who are married take better care of themselves, perhaps because they have something to live for.

‘And of course there is no denying that love is a good thing. It reduces stress and can help you deal with problems better.

‘When you are in a relationship there is also the element of social connectedness, where you have more social contact and more interaction with others.’