Previous research has linked marriage to longer life expectancy — as much as five years in some studies. A new study from Harvard Medical School now indicates a specific connection between marriage and cancer survival.
Dr. Paul Nguyen and his colleagues reviewed the medical records of 734,889 Americans who had been diagnosed with cancer, and found that those who were married had a significantly greater survival rate.
Being married may encourage patients to take better care of themselves and follow up on treatments. It may also help them to get diagnosed earlier, as spouses often influence decisions about early symptoms or concerns.
Men had a greater survival increase from being married than women. The results held true regardless of the type of cancer, although the survival benefits were the greatest for breast, prostate, colorectal, head and neck, and esophageal cancers.
Any close relationship may increase cancer survival, as other research has shown that members of close families are 70 percent more likely to follow up on their cancer treatments. The results emphasize the importance of the emotional support when attempting to navigate the physical and emotional challenges of cancer.
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