Why Are Married People More Likely to Survive Cancer?

(Written by Fr. Mark Hodges)

Featured ImageFREMONT, California, April 20, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Studies have long shown that married people with cancer live longer, but a new study investigates why.

According to researchers from Fremont’s Cancer Prevention Institute of California, and the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, the longevity-producing factor in marriage is neither money nor economic status, but the personal and emotional support of the marital union.

They analyzed 783,167 cancer patients in the new study, “Effects of marital status and economic resources on survival after cancer,” published online in CANCER, a journal of the American Cancer Society.

The researchers found that the risk of death was 27 percent greater for unmarried men stricken with cancer than for married men, and 19 percent higher for unmarried women.

After correcting for socioeconomic differences, they still found unmarried men 22 percent more likely to succumb to cancer, and unmarried women 15 percent more likely to die.

The findings have direct implications on American society, where a trend toward cohabitation continues to grow.

Co-lead researcher Dr. Scarlett Lin Gomez explained to Science Daily, “While other studies have found similar protective effects associated with being married, ours is the first in a large population-based setting to assess the extent to which economic resources explain these protective effects.”

“Our study provides evidence for social support as a key driver,” Dr. Gomez concluded.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute for Family Studies, told LifeSiteNews, “This study of cancer patients adds to the growing body of research showing that marriage improves the health and well-being of men and women alike.”

“This study also shows that the marriage premium cannot be explained away by economic factors,” Dr. Morse continued.  “While the benefits of marriage are greater for men than for women, both men and women benefit from marriage.”

She called the study’s findings “astonishingly strong,” because “this study has no way of accounting for the quality of the marriage” nor “the amount of social support actually provided within an individual marriage.”

“Married families should appreciate the fact that the more love and concern and practical support they provide one another, the better their loved-ones chances of survival become,” Dr. Morse told LifeSiteNews.

The full study may be read here.