FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Here's yet another reason to get hitched and stay hitched: New research suggests that being single during midlife appears to raise the risk for premature death.
The finding applies specifically to American men and women who've already entered their 40s, when the likelihood for continuing to live to a ripe old age is high. However, investigators say, marital status appears to significantly affect the odds, with those entering midlife single facing more than twice the risk of dying early than those who are part of a permanent partnership.
Study author Ilene Siegler, a professor of medical psychology with the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center, reports her team's research online Jan. 10 in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
The authors noted that Americans who reach the age of 40 can look forward to an average overall life expectancy of roughly 83 years.
That said, the team set out to assess how marital status might impact this figure by analyzing data collected by the UNC Alumni Heart Study, which included more than 4,800 men and women (82 percent men, and all white), all of whom had been born during the 1940s.
The study had been designed to look at how personality traits evident during one's college years (in this case between 1964 and 1966) might ultimately affect the risk for developing coronary heart disease down the road. Such traits included optimism, pessimism, depression, sociability and hostility.
The influence of other behavioral factors (such as educational and professional attainments, smoking and alcohol histories and exercise habits) were also weighed, alongside changing marital status and death incidence.
The results: compared with currently married men and women, individuals who entered midlife without ever having been married were found to face more th
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