- Men in stable relationships had stronger bones than men who never married
- But the findings only apply if a man marries after the age of 25
- Marrying before this tends to result in weaker bones – perhaps due to the stresses of raising a family
It has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and better cancer survival rates.
Now, a study has found that marriage is also good for a man’s bones – but only if he marries after the age of 25.
Researchers found that men in stable marriages or long-term relationships – who had not been divorced or separated previously – had stronger bones than men whose marriages had broken down.
And those in stable relationships also had stronger bones than men who never married.
But the age at which a man married was also a factor. Those who got hitched before the age of 25 had weaker bones than those who walked down the aisle later on.
And the study, published in the journal Osteoporosis International, did not find the same link for women in long-term relationships.
However, rather randomly, it did find that women with supportive partners had greater bone strength than those whose partners didn’t appreciate them or were ‘emotionally unsupportive’.
Among men who first married prior to turning 25, the researchers found a significant reduction in spine bone strength for each year they were married before that age.
‘Very early marriage was detrimental in men, likely because of the stresses of having to provide for a family,’ said study co-author Dr. Arun Karlamangla, a professor of medicine.
For instance, the authors said, those who marry young are likely to be less educated, leading to lower pay and more difficulty in making ends meet.
This is the first time that marital histories and marital quality have been linked to bone health, said the study’s senior author, Dr. Carolyn Crandall, a professor of medicine at UCLA.
She said: ‘There is very little known about the influence of social factors – other than socioeconomic factors – on bone health.
‘Good health depends not only on good health behaviours, such as maintaining a healthy diet and not smoking, but also on other social aspects of life, such as marital life stories and quality of relationships.’
“But early marriage – before the age of 25 – was detrimental for men’s bone health. This might be due to the stresses of having to provide for a family”
The researchers added the findings ‘imply that we should not assume that marriage has the same health rewards for men and women’.
‘Specifically, never marrying, and experiencing a divorce, widowhood, or separation are associated with poor bone health in men, whereas poor marital quality is associated with poor bone health in women.’
The researchers used data from the Midlife in the United States study, which recruited participants between the ages 25 and 75 in 1995–96.
Participants from that study were re-interviewed in 2004–05. The researchers also used bone-density scanners and looked at other factors factors that influence bone health, such as medications, health behaviors and menopause.
The link between marriage and bone health were evident in the spine but not the hip, possibly due to differences in bone composition, the researchers said.