(CBS) Wives are sometimes disparaged as the "ole ball and chain." But a new study suggests wives may actually be a lifeline for men in need of medical care
The study showed that that men who never get married are much more likely to die of cancer.
For the study - published in the Oct. 13 issue of the journal BMC Public Health - Norwegian researchers looked at data on more than 440,000 men and women diagnosed with cancer between 1970 and 2007. During this time, 200,000 Norwegians died of cancer, and when the authors reviewed the patients' marital statuses, the authors found that men were up to 35 percent more likely to die if they were never married.
Why the huge discrepancy? Wives apparently remind husbands to take better care of themselves, or tells them to go to doctors if something goes wrong, the authors suggested.
"It is possible that married individuals, because they are taken care of by their spouse, are more prone than the unmarried to visit a physician at occurrence of symptoms, thus possibly discovering tumors at an earlier stage," the authors wrote. Or another possible reason is that the additional emotional and economic support from being married might lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Previous research suggests that married folks have better nutrition and less smoking and alcohol abuse in the home, the authors said. Also, mental health problems are less common among unmarried folks, and these conditions could add stress on the body, according to the study.
Whatever the explanation, this trend appears to be worsening. Between 1970 and 2007, the risk of dying from cancer among never-married men had risen from 18 percent to 35 percent.
The study found that in 1970 the risk of dying from cancer among never-married men was 18 percent, and by 2007 that risk had nearly doubled. Unmarried women also found a slight increase in their death risk, from 17 percent to 22 percent over the 40 year period. The authors said there's "no obvious explanation," for this trend.
Fellas, would a better chance of cancer survival send you down the aisle?