According to a report by the Boston Globe Tuesday, married people get diagnosed earlier with cancer, are more likely to get the appropriate treatment, and are less likely to die from the disease than non-married folks, finds a new Dana-Farber Cancer Institute study.
The researchers used a national database to survey nearly 735,000 patients diagnosed with one of 10 different types of cancer and found that those who were married were 20 percent less likely to die of their cancers compared to those who weren’t married.
The results of their research suggest that patients who were married were significantly less likely to die from their disease than those that were single, separated, divorced or widowed. Married patients were also less likely to be diagnosed with metastatic disease and more likely than unmarried patients to undergo surgery or radiotherapy to manage the disease.
The researchers found that unmarried cancer patients were 17 percent more likely to have their cancer spread elsewhere in the body, known as metastatic cancer. That includes those who were widowed. Cancer patients without a spouse were also 53 percent less likely to have received the appropriate therapy for their disease.
In the study's accompanying editorial, David Kissane, head of psychiatry for Monash University in Australia, discusses just how big a difference marriage can make when it comes to cancer treatment. "Strikingly, the benefits of marriage are comparable to or greater than anticancer treatment with chemotherapy."
A Jan. 31 study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found married individuals were less likely to have a heart attack or die from one. The researchers at the time speculated that having someone around to start CPR or call for help may have lead to these findings.
On the flip-side, previous research revealed the death of a spouse may increase heart attack risk in the surviving spouse by 21 times.