If cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death among men – and it is – probably the most underappreciated way to reduce that risk is marriage. That’s right. The institution that has been so embattled in the modern era that it only has a 50 percent success rate has been shown to be substantially better for a man’s heart health than bachelorhood. And the longer it lasts, the better it is.
As a part of the renowned Framingham Heart Study, nearly 3700 adults were followed over a 10-year period. Married men had a 46% lower death rate, even after all other risks for cardiovascular disease, like age, smoking, and diabetes, were factored out. A study from Japan found that men who had never been married were three times more likely to die from cardiovascular causes.
Cancer is the number two killer, and while marriage does not prevent it, being married does significantly increase a man’s chances of surviving a cancer diagnosis. Part of the reason is that unmarried men are less likely to seek treatment. But even those who get treatment achieve better outcomes if they are married.
Married men are also less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or depression, too. They also have a lower incidence of diabetes and achieve better outcomes when they are hospitalized.
What’s the reason for all this good news?
Researchers have come up with a three-part answer. First, wives take care of their husbands. They tend to see to it that they eat healthier, drink and smoke less and exercise more. Second, men are more likely to get the healthcare they need when their wives are paying attention to their health and insisting they go to the doctor. And third, married men aren’t as socially isolated as those who aren’t married. A study done by Harvard found that social isolation makes a man 82% more likely to die from heart disease.
Of course, a marriage full of stress isn’t good for anyone’s health. It can raise blood pressure, increase cardiac inflammation, and actually contribute to heart failure. So, guys, it’s still best to marry for love, not a long life. But the health benefits make for some pretty good icing on the wedding cake.
And here’s a P.S. for you. If you want to put a little more icing on the cake, being a father can be healthy for men, too. For most Dads who are involved in being one, the responsibility can inspire you to live and model a healthier lifestyle. Sure, there are moments when you’re certain you’re growing old before your time, but all that activity is actually doing wonders for your cardiovascular health. And who has time for stress when you’re trying to keep up with a five-year-old?