Scientist found that a long marriage lowers a man’s chance of developing serious health problems and is more effective than giving up smoking when guarding against potentially fatal diseases.
Researchers looked at blood samples from 1,715 volunteers aged 57 to 85 to measure the level of C-reactive protein.
CRP, which is produced by the liver in response to inflammation, has been linked in previous studies to heart disease, depression and even stroke.
The study found that married men had the lowest CRP levels of any group: an average of 1.16 milligrams per litre of blood compared to 2.72 for unmarried men.
There was only a negligible difference between married and unmarried women.
The University of Arizona study, published in the Psychosomatic Medicine journal this month, found that marriage reduced a man’s risk of developing health problems by 10.34 per cent –equivalent to maintaining a healthy weight in later life.
It also trumped the benefits of normal blood pressure levels, which reduced risk by just 3.42 per cent, and of not smoking, which lowered risk by 7.94 per cent.
Professor Tony Cassidy, of Ulster University, an expert on how relationships affect health, said: ‘This shows how strong the effect of being married and having strong social bonds can be.
‘Men don’t necessarily get the same kind of support from their friendships – that’s why marriage is so important.’
However, June Davison, from the British Heart Foundation, warned: ‘This does not mean that married men can let themselves go.
‘Whether you’re married or not, eating healthily, doing regular activity and not smoking are all vital to keep your heart healthy.’ — Mail