Worried About Cancer? Get Married!

A cancer diagnosis is no laughing matter. Modern medicine has made great strides in treatment, but long-term survivability has many factors. One surprising factor that can greatly impact surviving cancer: marriage. A new study finds that married people have a much better chance of surviving cancer than their single brethren.

A research team at the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program studied the medical histories of over 1 million people. They paid particular attention to people who were diagnosed with the top 10 most deadly cancers, including prostate, breast, lung, and colon cancers.  Their results were recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The most interesting result of this massive study was the positive impact of marriage on lifespan following a diagnosis of cancer. Now, married people live longer in general, and are more affluent in general, and more likely to have healthy living habits. Even with all of these factors taken out, being married still had a measurable impact on surviving cancer. What constitutes a measurable impact, you ask? About 20% more likely to be alive at any point in time following the diagnosis!

Dr. Ayal Aizer was the primary author for the report. He believes that the impact of the spouse was felt in a number of areas. First, a married person was typically diagnosed earlier in the progression of the cancer than a single person.  Second, married people were 53% more likely to follow the recommended treatment plan to completion. That’s a staggering difference. Dr. Aizer credits the support and encouragement of a spouse, especially during chemotherapy and radiation therapy, when side-effects can make it difficult to conduct daily life, let alone make it to the hospital for each treatment.

So there you have it: yet another reason to get (and stay) married!

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