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Wednesday 20th June 2018

Divorce is bad for your health

28th July 2009

People who get divorced have a higher chance of getting chronic diseases later in life than those who remain married, even if they remarry, a new study in the United States has found.


Researchers at the University of Chicago studied 8,652 people between the ages of 51 and 61, and discovered that divorce has a lingering, detrimental impact on health.

Divorced people in the study had 20% more chronic illnesses like cancer than those who never married.

In those who remarried, this figure dropped to 12% more chronic illnesses.

Writing in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, the research team said adults start out with a "health stock" that they keep, or which is eroded, depending on their marital experience.

They suggested that only those who are continuously married are as healthy as those who never marry.

However, they said remarriage had psychological benefits wholly separate from the physical health impact of marital status.

People who remarry after divorce or bereavement tended to be happier as a result, as conditions like depression were more responsive to such positive changes than longer-term body processes, they said.

Study co-author and sociologist Linda Waite of the University of Chicago said divorce and being widowed added up to increased stress over falling incomes and negotiations with the ex-partner over issues like childcare.

Marriage, on the other hand, tends to bring an immediate health benefit, because it improves women's financial situation and promotes healthier lifestyles in men.

Waite said that conditions like diabetes and heart disease develop slowly over a substantial period and show the impact of past experiences, which were less likely to be reversed by remarriage.

Experts say that while divorce has become more common, it can take a heavy health toll as well as an emotional and financial toll.

Marriage guidance counsellor Christine Northan said the findings represented another incentive to work harder to make marriages last, unless the relationship was very destructive.

Some people had trouble finding partners who would be good for them, due to unconsciously negative selection processes, she added.


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