According to a new study, men who are happily married to highly educated women are more likely to get screened for colon cancer.
Researchers from the University of Chicago evaluated over 800 couples and found that married men over the age of 55 were almost 20 percent more likely to have had a screening colonoscopy in the last 5 years than men who were not married.
Men married to women who were happy in the relationship were 30 percent more likely to have been screened, and that number increased to 40 percent in men whose wives were highly educated.
In a recent press release, study director William Dale, MD, PhD, chief of geriatrics & palliative medicine at the University of Chicago, explained, "Women are thought to control the health capital in most households. They act as health gate keepers, overseeing their husband’s health choices and directing decisions at the margins. Her decisions influence both partners.”
Interestingly, women being married, happily or otherwise, made no significant difference compared with unmarried women. The education level of their husbands also did not appear to impact screening rates among women either.
Dr. Dale hypothesizes that women derive fewer direct health benefits from marriage. “We suspect they depend more on alternate support sources, such as friends and other relatives,” he said.
This study reveals important information, because, as Dale suggests, "a better understanding of the role of spouses might help us improve colon cancer screening rates.” This strategy has been valuable for other health interventions, such as smoking cessation and encouraging exercise.
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