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Is Marriage the Cure for Cancer?


It sounds strange, but it’s true: marriage could be a important part of finding a cure for cancer. A new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology finds that married cancer patients are 20 percent more likely than unmarried cancer patients to beat the disease. NBC News has more:

The study also found that guys seem to benefit more from marriage when it comes to surviving cancer: Men had a 23 percent improvement in survival if they were married; for women, it was 16 percent. Nguyen says unmarried women may be more likely to reach out to their social networks for help, whereas that might not come as easily to unmarried men […]

“This is not supposed to be a downer for single people; this is not supposed to be just a pat on the back for married people,” Nguyen says. “This is really supposed to be something that gets us all to think about how we can help each other — how we can help our friends, and our loved ones, with cancer.”

This isn’t the first study of it’s kind: A 1991 study of leukemia patients who received bone marrow transplants found that those with strong social support had two year survival rate was 54 percent, compared to 20 percent for those without it.

Nor is cancer isn’t the only disease for which strong communal bonds have improved health outcomes. Carol Ryff and Burton Singer, for example, found that weak social ties  “predicted incident cardiovascular disease, decline in physical function, and decline in cognitive function.”

The health of our relationships is closely tied to the health of of citizenry, yet this remains neglected in much of the national health policy discussion. Strong communities are an essential context for health care, and strengthening relationships and building communities are as important for the future of health care as technological innovations and quality doctor training.

[Wedding cake image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Pete

    Well, the traditional view is that God created woman to be a mate with man. That is, neither a man nor a woman is truly complete without the other.

    And all the stats show that married couples do better economically and health wise than single people.

    Furthermore, single people — especially women — tend to favor empowering the almighty state over small government.

  • Corlyss

    I think it depends on the helpmate relationship. People suffering from a potentially life-threatening disease like cancer, but not just cancer, need emotional support of varying degrees. If the marriage is healthy, then the support exists. If the marriage is not healthy, the rate of survival is probably more like that of single people. I am one of the lucky singles. 13 years in remission.

  • crabtown

    It’s too bad Obamacare penalized married couples over a certain income. But the Left’s been trying to get rid of marriage for a very long time.

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