That is the conclusion of a new study to be published in the November 1, 2009 issue of Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. The authors of the study say its results suggest that the stress associated with marital separation may compromise an individual's immune system and lead to a greater susceptibility to cancer.
Research has shown that personal relationships have a significant role in physical health—specifically that good relationships are beneficial and poor relationships are deleterious. Also, many studies of cancer prognosis have found that patients who are married live longer than those who are single. However, little information is available regarding differences in survival among the various types of people who are unmarried.
To look for trends in cancer survival among patients who are separated, divorced, widowed, and never married, researchers led by Gwen Sprehn, Ph.D., of the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis analyzed data from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database, a population-based cancer registry in the United States.
The researchers assessed the 5 and 10 year survival rates of 3.79 million patients diagnosed with cancer between 1973 and 2004. They found that married patients had the highest 5 and 10 year survival rates, at 63.3 percent and 57.5 percent respectively. At the other end of the spectrum, separation carried the poorest survival outcome. Specifically, the 5 and 10 year survival rates for separated patients were 45.4 percent and 36.8 percent respectively. The 5 and 10 year survival rates of widowed patients were the next lowest, at 47.2 percent and 40.9 percent respectively; for divorced patients, the respective survival rates were 52.4 percent and 45.6 percent; and for never married patients, they were 57.3 percent and 51.7 percent.
The authors hypothesized that the stress of separation may compromise the immune system and thus create a greater vulnerability to cancer. While additional research is needed, the researchers say certain interventions might help patients today. For example, psychological interventions to reduce stress may impact the immune system and improve survival.
"Patients who are going through separation at the time of diagnosis may be a particularly vulnerable population for whom intervention could be prioritized," says Sprehn. "Identification of relationship-related stress at time of diagnosis could lead to early interventions which might favorably impact survival. Ideally, future research will study marital status in more detail over time and also address individual differences in genetic profile and biomarkers related to stress, immune, and cancer pathways in order to determine mechanisms which might underlie this possible critical period for cancer pathogenesis."
Article: "Decreased cancer survival in individuals separated at time of diagnosis: critical period for cancer pathophysiology?" Gwen C. Sprehn, Joanna E. Chambers, Andrew J. Saykin, Andre Konski, and Peter A. S. Johnstone. Cancer; Published Online: August 24, 2009 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.24547); Print Issue Date: November 1, 2009.
David Sampson | EurekAlert!
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
06.12.2016 | Earth Sciences
06.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy