London: Marriage is good for your health, as
a new study says being wedded or in a long-term relationship
improves the ability to deal with stress.
Researchers at the University of Chicago found that when
people in a relationship are put under pressure they produce
fewer stress related hormones than their single counterparts.
The hormone called cortisol is released when the body is
stressed and is part of its "fight or flight" reaction to
danger. It is seen as a measure of how stressed someone feels.
Lead researcher Professor Dario Maestripieri said: "What
we found is that marriage has a dampening effect on cortisol
responses to psychological stress -- and that is very new.
"These results suggest single and unpaired individuals
are more responsive to psychological stress than married
individuals, a finding consistent with a growing body of
evidence showing that marriage and social support can buffer
The finding may go some way towards explaining previous
studies that have shown married people live longer and have
less heart disease and other health problems, the Telegraph
For their research, Prof Maestripieri and his team got
500 students -- almost half of whom were married or in
relationships -- to play a series of economic computer games
which were said to be part of their exams.
Saliva samples were taken before and after to measure
hormone levels and changes.
Each student was told that the test was a course
requirement, and it would impact their future career placement
to create a high pressure situation that would affect levels
Concentrations of the hormone increased in all
participants -- particularly among the women. But a piece of
personal information collected beforehand provided another
interesting difference within the subjects.
Prof Maestripieri said: "We found unpaired individuals of
both sexes had higher cortisol levels than married
"Although marriage can be pretty stressful, it should
make it easier for people to handle other stressors in their
The study also found single students also displayed
higher testosterone levels than their married or committed
colleagues -- a finding that mirrors previous human research
as well as animal observations.