According to a study conducted by Harvard University, a person’s chances of surviving cancer increases by 20% simply by being married.
The researchers went one step further and stated marriage was more effective than chemotherapy in fighting certain types of cancer — such as breast and colon cancer. A report of their findings was published in the Journal of Clinical Onoclogy in September 2013.
Dr. Ayal Aizer of the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program said “Our data suggests that marriage can have a significant health benefit for patients with cancer, and this was consistent among every cancer we reviewed.”
The researchers tracked 734,889 patients suffering from 10 of the most common forms of cancer including prostate, breast, pancreatic, lung and non-hodgkin Lymphoma.
Their study showed:
- Married people were 17% less likely to see their metastic cancer spread from its original sources.
- Married patients were 20% less likely to die from their cancer.
- Married people were 53% more likely to receive the necessary treatments for their cancer.
- Married men had slightly better results than married women
- Married patients more often had their cancer detected earlier
The results of this study were calculated after removing other factors associated with marriage that could contribute to better cancer results, such as higher income. Once done, the results showed marriage in itself was beneficial.
Why does marriage help?
The researchers were uncertain why marriage was so effective in fighting cancer.
They speculated marriage provides a strong emotional support base that helps an individual deal with cancer. They also noted married people tend to have their cancer diagnosed earlier. This would suggest as a couple, they tune into symptons earlier.
Married couples also attend diagnostic and treatment sessions together, which may aid in the follow through on treatment.
Importance of community
Dr. Paul Nguyen, the report’s senior author, said:
“We don’t just see our study as an affirmation of marriage. Rather it should send a message to anyone who has a friend or loved one with cancer, by being for that person and helping them navigate their appointments and make it through all their treatments, you can make a real difference to that person’s outcome.”
The power of marriage
Ecclesiastes 4:12 speaks of the power marriage and community.
And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NASV)
But the key analogy is in the rope. In order for it to be truly strong, the cords have to be blended together. Only when the individual cords are woven can they find their true strength. It is not an easy process, bringing two people together in an harmonious relationship is hard work.
But weaving together two cords in marriage is not enough, a third cord must be brought in to maximize its strength, that third cord is Jesus.