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Guess it's true when they say that love is a health booster - for the men, anyway.
According to an article by AFP (which appeared in The Straits Times), a recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health suggested that men with steadily improving marriages also reported healthier cholesterol and blood pressure compared to peers whose unions were sliding downhill.
More than 600 men in Britain were surveyed about the "quality" of their marriage when their children were about 3, and again at about age 9. They were asked to rate their marriage as consistently good, consistently bad, improving, or deteriorating.
Fast forward 12 years and the participants' health were analysed again, using measures like blood pressure, rest heart rate, weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar - factors correlated with cardiovascular health. Those who described their marriage as improving were noted have better cholesterol readings and a healthier weight years later. Meanwhile, men whose unions were declining "were associated with worsening diastolic blood pressure."
Interestingly, men who had reported being in a consistently good or consistently bad marriage, were noted to have little changes, according to the team of researchers. They theorised that this may be due to "habituation".
That's not to say a worsening marriage is definitely detrimental to the body, though. The researchers highlighted that their study was merely observational and could not show conclusively that an improving marriage leads to better health. "Further research needs to determine if effective marriage counselling, or when appropriate, abandoning a deteriorating relationship, has longer-term physical health benefits," said the team.
Another point to note: The participants were relatively young when taking part in the study, and it is too early to know how their relative health risks would translate into actual disease.