Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, director of Ohio State University College of Medicine's Division of Health Psychology, said the study is well-done and jibes with her own research on how the most stressful break-ups affect the health of spouses.
"Many studies have now shown that stress and depression reliably enhance inflammation," which can make cancer worse, she said.
The study leaves plenty of questions, however, apparently because of the limitations of the statistics the researchers used, said Hui Liu, an assistant professor of sociology at Michigan State University.
The research didn't take into account the marital history of those surveyed or some other details. "Previous research suggests that remarriages provide less health benefit than first marriages," she said. Also, studies suggest that longer marriages may have more health benefits, she noted, and the bad effects of marriages that fall apart may diminish over time.
The American Institute of Stress has more on the importance of emotional and social support.
SOURCES: Gwen Sprehn, Ph.D., neuropsychologist, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis; Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D., director, division of health psychology, Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus; Hui Liu, Ph.D., assistant professor, sociology, Michigan State University, East Lansing; Aug. 24, 2009, Cancer, online
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