5 Surprising Ways A Relationship Affects Your Health

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When talking about a healthy relationship, we rarely consider just how a relationship impacts our actual physical and mental wellbeing. Turns out, we should. As these recent studies conclude, a strong relationship is often an indicator of good health, while negative or stressful relationships may lead to a raft of complications.

 

Photo: Earl McGehee/Wikimedia/Creative Commons


Bad marriage can increase risk of heart disease
A recent study published last week in the Journal of Health and Behavior found that people in bad marriages faced a much higher risk of heart disease than people in happier ones. Michigan State University researchers arrived at the conclusion after measuring the incidence of heart attacks, strokes and poor cholesterol among 1,200 adults ahead 50 to 80 over five years. People who expressed stressful love lives were more at risk the longer they were in those relationships—thus, the negative effects were especially noticeable in old adults. That said, if you’re in a bad relationship now, consider ending it before it ends you.

For better or for worse, new relationships have drug-like symptoms
A new study by eHarmony found that human courtship can be broken up into five distinct stages—butterflies, building, assimilation, honesty and stability. Without getting too much into the later stages, 30 per cent of people experiencing the first category’s episodes of intense infatuation and sexual attraction reported weight loss. However, people in the first and second stages also reported a lack of productivity (39 per cent), lack of sleep (44 per cent) and lowered attention span (29 per cent). These symptoms—similar to being high on drugs—are the byproducts of being drunk on love. As for the lack of sleep, well, we’ll let you figure that one out on your own.

Fighting can make you gain weight
It’s common knowledge that fighting can make you seek out comfort at the bottom of a bag of chips, but new links between unhealthy relationships and obesity presented at the recent ScienceWriters2014 conference show that it goes deeper than that. An Ohio State researcher concluded that people with a history of depression or marital strife have a physically lower fat metabolism, meaning they burn foods more slowly. The average hostile couple stood to gain up to 12 pounds a year.

Lots of sex could mean less risk of prostate cancer
As if we needed more reason to get down, researchers found that men who bed scores of partners—around 21, in fact—face less of a risk of prostate cancer. The University of Quebec study published in Cancer Epidemiology compared the sex lives of 1,590 men with prostate cancer to 1,618 of those without the illness. Men who slept with more than 20 women were 19 per cent less likely to develop a particular type of aggressive prostate cancer. However, the study did not take into account the lifestyle, nutrition, or other factors of its subjects.

Bad relationships may lead to mental decline
A University College London researcher found that people in relationships they considered to be ineffective, intrusive, or over-controlling could face a decrease in cognitive ability later in life. The 10-year British study tracked almost 6,000 people in middle age, testing their memory and asking them to fill questionnaires related to their love lives. Those who revealed their relationships produced stress and offered little support were most likely to suffer the most debilitating effects. The effects of a poor relationship were discovered to hasten a given subject’s mental deterioration in old age by the equivalent of one extra year.

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