August 25, 2011

Another 'to do'

I completely missed a fundamental piece of ground-breaking research into colorectal cancer.

I need to get married

I already drink foul potions and avoid a long list of 'bad' foods. I exercise, meditate, listen to classical music and watch comedies. I keep a journal and am part of a support group. I guess there is only thing left that could save me: marriage.

A study of over 127 000 people with colorectal cancer in the US found that married people have a 14% lower risk of dying from their cancer than 'single' people. The researchers say that spouses provide support, encourage their partners to be compliant during treatment and give the person love.

Do I really need a marriage certificate to live?

The study didn't actually compare married people with single people, it compared married people to people that have never been married (this includes people in relationships but not married).

I've never been married, but I am in a loving and supportive relationship. I cook for her and spend lazy weekends cuddled up. She keeps me away from McDonalds and makes me fresh vegetable juices loaded with enzymes and antioxidants.

But maybe something about the marriage certificate changes people? Maybe it makes people better nurturers? Perhaps 'marriage-hormones' result in a stronger immune system. Is that why the study only compared married to non-married?

It seems the marriage certificate may do something. Many studies have found that married people are happier, committed to the longer-term and have higher levels of well-being compared to single people and those cohabiting. While cohabiting isn't as good as marriage (at increasing your well-being) you can catch up to married people if you marry soon after cohabiting.

It also seems the marriage certificate may do nothing. Some researchers say once you account for people's economic status, backgrounds and culture, being married makes you no happier than cohabiting. Also, modern studies focus on patterns within the relationship and not the legal status of that relationship. How you talk, interact and resolve conflict appears to be more important that putting on a puffy dress and having doves released around you.

I think a new study is needed before I buy a ring

If we add 'De-facto' and 'Do not share place of residence with partner' or some other awkward phrase to the stream of hospital questionnaires we complete as patients now, the data should be ready in 10 years. But cancer survival is usually measured over five years.

To get the best of both worlds (while waiting for the data0 I am going to focus on having a positive and healthy relationship AND start pretending I am married.

This way my immune system will benefit from being in a healthy relationship and will think it is bound to another person by law (just in case that piece of paper does actually matter).

And in cancer circles that's what we call a win-win therapy.

No certificate here and they are doing just fine


  1. I can't imagine doing this without my loved ones. And my tumour isn't even the big C, I know.

    You know, I wonder about the relevance of those surveys to people our age. Most people don't face this stuff until much later in life than us when their parents are much older or perhaps not around any more. At our age, our close family is made up not only of our partners (and kids) but also our parents (and siblings). That must make a difference, especially having read your recent post about your parents. How much do those surveys take our situation into account?

    Oh, and please spare Sana the poofy dress and doves in the pretend marriage. She sounds like an absolute gem and definitely does not deserve that!

  2. Oh Braves, you realise you've just opened the doors to pandemonium don't you? Just wait for the barrage of proposals to begin! ;)

  3. I think it's really depends how you view marriage.

  4. Been married twice, and now in a long-term relationship, and 2 beautiful children to boot!

    Pretty unhealthy (& unhappy) when I was married; had a dance with the big C in the midst of this relationship, yet I feel - and I'm sure I am - the healthyest and happiest I've ever been.

    But I ain't married, so maybe I'm just a confounding variable.