Arizona Study Links Health and Marriage

uofaUniversity of Arizona researchers just released some interesting news on the ties between marriage and health. The study, published in the latest Journal of Women’s Health,  suggests that some key health indicators such as blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) can be affected by marital status in postmenopausal women.

From News-Medical.net:

For women who marry later in life, a few extra pounds may accompany their nuptials, a new study led by the University of Arizona suggests.

On the other hand, older women who go through a divorce or separation may lose weight and see some positive changes in their health, according to the research, which is forthcoming in the Journal of Women’s Health.

“Earlier studies on marriage and divorce have shown that marriage is usually associated with a longer lifespan and fewer health problems, while divorce is associated with higher mortality,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Randa Kutob, an associate professor of family and community medicine and director of the UA College of Medicine’s Office of Continuing Medical Education.

“The interesting thing we found in our study is that with divorce in postmenopausal women, it’s not all negative, at least not in the short term,” she said.

According to the University of Arizona website, researchers looked at 79,000 postmenopausal women ages 50 to 79 over a three-year period. The women fell into one of several groups:

  • those who went from single to married or in a self-defined marriage-like relationship over the course of three years;
  • those who started out married but went through a separation or divorce; and
  • those whose marital status did not change over the three-year period (they either started out and remained married or started out and remained unmarried).

United Press International (UPI) said the UofA researchers found a link between transitions in marital status and a number of health indicators such as waist circumference, BMI and blood pressure, and behaviors such as smoking, alcohol use, physical activity and diet.

Results showed that the BMI of a postmenopausal woman increased with marriage but decreased with divorce. Postmenopausal women who married had an increased level of confidence and alcohol use compared to unmarried postmenopausal women.

Divorce was not only associated with a lower BMI but also a reduction in waist circumference with improvements to diet and increased physical activity.

EurekaAlert.org quoted Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Women’s Health, as saying, “These new results are in stark contrast to earlier findings in which marriage has been associated with improved overall health and divorce with higher mortality.”

Share your thoughts on this new study and whether you believe it will change the way we think about some long-held views on health and marriage in postmenopausal women. Spreading the word about new health research being done right here in our state, is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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