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Originally published January 25 2009

Distressed Marriages Negatively Affect Breast Cancer Recovery

by Reuben Chow

(NaturalNews) Are you in an unhappy marriage? If so, please take note - a recent study on women has found that problems in marriage result in poor outcomes for breast cancer sufferers.

Details and Findings of Study

The findings of this study, which was conducted at the Ohio State University, will be published in the journal Cancer. The study had looked at some 100 women who were either married or residing with a partner when the study commenced, and who remained in the relationship in the 5-year follow-up period. Of the 100 subjects, 72 reported being in good marriages, with the other 28 reporting marriages in distress.

The study found that women who were in distressed marriages underwent less physical activity, had higher levels of stress, were slower to recover and also suffered more signs and symptoms of sickness as compared to the women who were in happy marriages. And these findings applied even after the study team accounted for factors such as the female subjects' depression levels, stage of cancer, cancer treatment as well as other factors which could influence their state of wellbeing.

"The quality of the marital relationship may not be the first thing women worry about when they get a cancer diagnosis. But it may have a significant impact on how they cope physically and emotionally. Our results suggest that the increases in stress and other problems that come with a distressed marital relationship can have real health consequences and lead to poorer recovery from cancer," said Hae-Chung Yang, a research associate in psychology at Ohio State University and co-author of the study.

Women in happy marriages also suffer trauma arising from their diagnoses; significantly, they recover better

The study also revealed that even the women in the better marriages would initially go through a period of high stress levels after their cancer diagnoses, as high as those who were in unhappy marriages. But, the key thing was, those in the happy marriages would experience a steady decrease in such stress.

"When you're diagnosed, that's devastating for everyone, regardless of the quality of your marriage. But women in good marriages saw steady reductions in their cancer-related stress, while women in distressed marriages had a much slower recovery," added Yang.

Relationships do not seem to improve after diagnosis

Another sad thing for those in the reportedly bad marriages - even being hit with such a serious illness, most of them do not experience any improvement in the quality of their marriages, a finding which is consistent with those of previous studies. You would think that, perhaps the husbands of these women would become more loving or caring after their partners take ill, but apparently, that does not happen.

"Whether you have a good or bad relationship before being diagnosed with cancer, that is not likely to change afterwards," said Yang.

Bottom line

A holistically natural and healthy lifestyle goes beyond the physical elements of nutrition and exercise. The great natural healer Dr John Christopher was said to have once remarked that the best healing element is love. On the flip side, others have said that there is nothing more toxic than strained relationships. And, of course, profiling work done on cancer patients has revealed the frequent presence of underlying emotional issues.

"Clearly, marital distress is a risk factor for numerous poorer outcomes, and it is never too late to work to improve your marriage, not only for your emotional well-being but also for your health," added Yang.

Sounds like good advice to me.


Marital Distress May Affect Breast Cancer Recovery (

About the author

Reuben Chow has a keen interest in natural health and healing as well as personal growth. His website, All 4 Natural Health, offers a basic guide on natural health information. It details simple, effective and natural ways, such as the use of nutrition, various herbs, herb remedies, supplements and other natural remedies, to deal with various health conditions as well as to attain good health. His other websites also cover topics such as depression help, omega 3 fatty acids, as well as cancer research and information.

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