Married people are more likely to survive cancer when compared to people who are unmarried or widowed, a new study from the U.S. has found.
Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital, authors of the latest study, also found that married people are more likely to get an early diagnosis of the disease and also receive early and better medical care.
This isn't the first time that marriage has been linked with better health outcomes. Previous research has shown that married people, whether men or women, have better chances of surviving a heart attack and having a long, healthy life.
The present study was based on data from large study group of over 7 lakh people who were part of long-term health trial called the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program.
Researchers found that unmarried or widowed people were 17 percent more likely to have deadly cancer that can spread to other parts of the body when compared to married people.
"Our data suggests that marriage can have a significant health impact for patients with cancer, and this was consistent among every cancer that we reviewed. We suspect that social support from spouses is what's driving the striking improvement in survival. Spouses often accompany patients on their visits and make sure they understand the recommendations and complete all their treatments," said Ayal Aizer, MD from Harvard Radiation Oncology Program and the first author of the study.
According to the researchers, the study doesn't just show how marriages help cancer patients recover from their illness, but also shows the importance of social support.
"It (the study) should send a message to anyone who has a friend or a loved one with cancer: by being there for that person and helping them navigate their appointments and make it through all their treatments, you can make a real difference to that person's outcome," said the study's senior author Paul Nguyen, MD, a radiation oncologist at Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women's, according to a press release.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.