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Could marriage be the secret of surviving cancer?

Could marriage be the secret to surviving cancer?

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 8:19 AM on 24th August 2009

Married people are more likely to survive cancer, research shows.

The stress of separation may harm a patient's immune system and make them more susceptible to the effects of the disease, a study's authors said.

They found that those who are separated have the worst chance of survival.

Researchers looked at the five and ten-year survival rates of nearly four million patients diagnosed with cancer between 1973 and 2004.

Married people are more likely to survive cancer, research shows

They found that 63.3 per cent of married patients survived for at least five years and 57.5 per cent for ten years.

Separated people were only 45.4 per cent likely to survive for five years, while after ten years only 36.8 per cent lived.

Widowed patients had the next lowest chance of survival, with 47.2 per cent living for five years after cancer diagnosis and 45.6 per cent living for ten years.

Those who had never married had a survival rate of 57.3 per cent after five years and 51.7 per cent after ten years.

Lead researcher Dr Gwen Sprehn said psychological ' interventions' should be used help reduce stress and with it the chances of death.

'Patients who are going through separation at the time of diagnosis may be a particularly vulnerable population for whom intervention could be prioritised,' she said.

'Identification of relationship-related stress at time of diagnosis could favourably impact survival.'

She also urged other scientists to carry out further studies in the area. She said:

'Ideally, future research will study marital status in more detail over time and also address individual differences in genetic profile and biomarkers related to stress, immune, and cancer pathways in order to determine mechanisms which might underlie this possible critical period.'

The study was carried out by researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine, in Indianapolis in the U.S., and published in the November issue of Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

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