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Could Being Married Save You From Cancer?

Study says marriage boosts cancer survival rates
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

Looks like there's a new perk to sticking it out and staying married—other than totally bucking the trends. Turns out it could save your life. (Well, at least if you already have cancer.)

According to CNN, a recent study looked at over 700,000 U.S. cancer patients with the most severe forms of the disease, and uncovered some pretty interesting stats. Namely, those who were married were 20 percent less likely to die from their prognosis than singletons. And here's the biggest reason why: married patients were far more likely to detect their cancer early on, which in turn opened up the possibilities for more treatment options and the opportunity to live longer.

“It is pretty astonishing,” Dr. Paul Nguyen, the study’s senior author, told CNN. “There’s something about the social support that you get within a marriage that leads to better survival.”

(Translation: All that pestering you've been doing about getting that prostate checked hasn't been for naught.)

“You’re going to nag your wife to go get her mammograms," Nguyen continued. "You’re going to nag your husband to go get his colonoscopy. If you’re on your own, nobody’s going to nag you.”

If all this sounds hugely depressing to anyone out there who may be unattached, fear not. The research only shows a strong link, and not a direct cause, between marriage rates and cancer survival.

“Whatever it is about a marriage that helps people live longer and make it through their cancer, it might very well be that any friend, any loved one can do that for a patient with cancer,” Nguyen noted.

And that may ring true for men even more than women, who seemed to benefit more from marriage in the study than women did. (Possibly because historically, men are not huge fans of going to the doctor.)

“An unmarried guy might be much more of loner about his health care,” Nguyen said.

His advice? “Don’t be afraid to bring a buddy. Reach out to people because it could make a big difference.”

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