An abundance of health research is giving new meaning to the marriage vow to stay together “in sickness and in health.”
In a new report for The Conversation
Website, University of Sydney researchers Nial Wheat and Parth J. Upadhyay note that a growing spate of studies is proving strong evidence that evidence being happily married greatly increases patients' chances of being cured of cancer.
The latest research, by doctors and scientists at Harvard University, found people who are married are less likely to die from head and neck cancer. The findings, published in the journal Cancer
, are based on medical records of more than 51,000 patients and add to other research linking marriage and treatment success in a range of cancer types including prostate, uterine, breast, and pancreatic.
“The importance of having a spouse appears to come from their ability to detect the early signs of cancer,” Wheat and Upadhyay write. “This may include visual changes in their partner but also audio clues like hoarseness when speaking, difficulty swallowing or other changes in their voice.
After picking up these signs, spouses tend to encourage their partner to visit a doctor, which leads to earlier diagnosis and treatment.”
They add, however, that having strong marital support during the difficult process of cancer diagnosis and treatment is also a factor in surviving the disease.
“The continuing support provided by spouses also plays a key role in their partners' treatment success,” they say. “Married patients were more likely to listen to their doctors' advice and adhere to their medication schedules.”
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