Don't Want Cancer? Get Married.

You probably know that race and ethnicity affect your chances of getting and surviving cancer.  Many women of the Jewish faith carry a gene that indicates the potential for breast cancer. Jewish couples may also be at risk of carrying genes that may result in Tay-Sachs, a fatal disease for their children.  It's also more frequent among French Canadians, Cajuns, and people of Irish/British descent.

But did you know marriage is up there, too?

A new study has found that that the benefits of being married vary by race and ethnicity, with male non-Hispanic white bachelors experiencing the worst outcome. This group had a 24 percent higher mortality rate than their married counterparts.Previous studies have shown that married patients with cancer fare better than unmarried cancer patients, surviving more often and longer.

Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that unmarried women also had higher mortality than married women, but the difference was less significant than among men, according to Unmarried non-Hispanic white females had a 17 percent increase in mortality compared to those who were married, while single Asian/Pacific Islander females experienced a 6 percent increase in cancer death compared to wedded counterparts.

“Oncologists should be aware that an increase in cancer mortality is a real outcome among unmarried individuals,” the web site quotes María Elena Martínez, PhD, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center Sam M. Walton Endowed Chair for Cancer Research and lead author of the study. “Physicians treating unmarried patients should ask if there is someone within their social network available to help the individual physically and emotionally during treatment. More attention should be paid to this consistent and adverse health effect of being unmarried.”

Shockingly (at least, to me) the number of unmarried adults in the United States is growing, from 10 percent in 1960 to 23 percent in 2012 among men and 8 to 17 percent among women. Researchers say an increase in cancer mortality is also likely to continue rising.

So, want to protect yourself?  Bachelors out there, start looking around.  Of course, the study said nothing about cancer and people who are unhappily married!


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