New study finds positive health effects of marriage. Unsurprisingly, other studies beg to differ

Researchers from Aston Medical School, Birmingham, and the University of East Anglia found having a loving partner can encourage you to take better care of yourself.

A study of more than 900,000 adults in the UK looked at individuals with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes, and found survival rates were better in married people.

Married people are 14% less likely to die of a heart attack

Dr Paul Carter, who led the study, looked into the causes of death and found that married people in their 50s, 60s and 70s with high cholesterol were 16% more likely to be alive at the end of the 14-year study than singletons. This was also true for diabetes and high blood pressure.

In a previous study, they also discovered married people were 14% less likely to die following a heart attack and, on average, spend two days less in hospital than single people.

Dr Carter believes the results suggest that “marriage offers a protective effect”, most likely due to “having support in controlling the key risk factors for heart disease”.

Getting Hitched

The happiness of marriages was not surveyed, but researchers suspect the quality of the relationship is the key factor, rather than a legal marriage certificate. Further research is intended into the protective effect of supportive relationships by looking into the effects of friends, family and social support networks.

Marriage, however, is also linked to an increased risk of weight gain. A new study by Dmitry Tumin in Social Science Quarterly suggests the positive effect of marriage on health is diminishing, and potentially non-existent. Tumin did find that older people’s health improved with marriage, but only in relationships that had lasted 10 years or more, and only in women.