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!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
29.05.2017 | Life Sciences
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.05.2017 | Statistics