LIFESTYLE

Marriage Boosts Chances Of Surviving Cancer, Research Shows

'Physicians treating unmarried patients should ask if there is someone within their social network available to help.'

11/04/2016 09:40

Being married boosts your chances of surviving cancer, new research suggests.

A new study of almost 800,000 cancer patients' data in America found that the benefits of being married also vary by race and ethnicity.

Male, non-Hispanic, white bachelors were found to experience the worst outcome, as this group had a 24% higher mortality rate than their married counterparts.

Unmarried women also had higher mortality than married women, but the difference was less significant than among men.

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The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California's San Diego School of Medicine, also found that unmarried, non-Hispanic, white females had a 17% increase in mortality compared to those who were married.

In comparison, Asian/Pacific Islander females experienced a 6% increase in cancer death compared to wedded counterparts. 

"Oncologists should be aware that an increase in cancer mortality is a real outcome among unmarried individuals," said María Elena Martínez, lead author of the study.

"Physicians treating unmarried patients should ask if there is someone within their social network available to help the individual physically and emotionally during treatment.

"More attention should be paid to this consistent and adverse health effect of being unmarried."

In addition to the difference based on race and ethnicity, researchers found variation based upon place of birth.

Unmarried cancer patients born outside of the United States experienced better survivorship rates compared to those born in the US.

There was a significant difference among women of Hispanic descent as well as males and females of Asian/Pacific Islander descent who were born in the US compared to their foreign-born counterparts.

"The results suggest that the more acculturated you become to US culture, the more it impacts cancer survivorship," said Martínez.

"Our hypothesis is that non-Hispanic whites don't have the same social network as other cultures that have stronger bonds with family and friends outside of marriage. As individuals acculturate they tend to lose those bonds.

"It's also been shown that women seek out help for health concerns more frequently than men, and women tend to remind spouses to see their physicians and live a healthy lifestyle."

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