Most young men and women dream of one day getting married. However, new research suggests that saying “I do” may not just lead to emotional satisfaction– it could also help individuals maintain lower blood sugar levels and decrease their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
A team of scientists from Luxembourg and Canada analyzed data from 3,335 older adults between the ages of 50 and 89 utilizing the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).
The study participants were followed for 10 years, during which they provided regular blood samples, answered questions about marital status, and discussed the quality of their relationships.
Of this group, about 75% were married or cohabitating. The team found that both husbands and wives experienced lower blood sugar levels, decreasing by an average of 0.21 percent.
“To give context to our results, other studies have suggested that a 0.2% decrease in the population’s average blood sugar level could reduce excess mortality by 25%,” explained Dr. Katherine Ford, a corresponding study author from the University of Luxembourg.
Perhaps even more interesting, this health benefit was witnessed among married couples regardless of the quality of their relationship. In other words, even if the marriage was happy or dissonant.
“We found that marital status, unlike the level of support or strain within the marriage, seemed to influence average blood sugar levels in this population at risk for Type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Ford said.
“Identifying and addressing obstacles that hinder the formation of romantic partnerships for older adults interested in pursuing these relationships could have subsequent benefits.”
Past studies have mirrored these results, finding that marriage tends to result in health benefits. For instance, spouses are less likely to experience depression and are at a lower risk of developing certain conditions, including high cholesterol or hypertension.