Women gain no health benefits from marriage, new research claims.
In a joint project, researchers from the London School of Economics, University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine analysed data relating 10,000 people born in the UK during the same week in 1958.
They found that while unmarried men ran a noticeably higher risk of illness, the same was not true of unmarried women. The latter had effectively the same chance as their married friends and relatives of developing what is called ‘metabolic syndrome’ – a combination of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity typically associated with middle age. Unmarried women did, on average, show higher levels of ‘biomarkers’ (biological signs) associated with breathing problems and heart disease, but the difference was slight in both cases.
By contrast, levels of the biomarker associated with heart problems were 14 per cent higher in unmarried men compared to their married counterparts. In addition, women who divorced while still in their 20s had a 31 per cent lower chance of developing metabolic syndrome than those who remained married.
Both men and women who divorced saw little change in their health if they went on to find a new long term partner, the researchers also reported.
Researcher George Ploubidis of University College London concluded:
“Not marrying or cohabiting is less detrimental among woman than men.”
Whereas, he continued, “…being married appears to be more beneficial for men.”
The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.
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