Divorced? You're 23% More Likely to Die Early
...compared to married couples: research
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2012 11:36 AM CST
Divorce leads to an increased risk of early death, a new review of research finds.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Getting a divorce can do more than just bum you out: It can lead to an increased risk of early death. A new review of 32 studies published over 27 years finds that divorced adults have a 23% greater chance of dying early than married couples do, the Arizona Republic reports. That risk is similar to what you'd face if you started smoking or drinking a lot, stopped exercising, or gained a lot of weight. The studies that were reviewed encompassed 6.5 million adults living in the US and 10 other countries.

It's particularly bad news for divorced men, possibly because their wives took care of health-related issues; they face a 31% increased risk for early death compared to married men. For divorced women, increased risk is 18%. The lead author notes that the study doesn't necessarily mean divorce is always bad for health and marriage always good; it also doesn't answer the question of cause and effect (ie, what comes first: divorce or poor health?). And it is possible, the Republic notes, that certain unhealthy behaviors (think: alcoholism) could lead to both divorce and an early death. (Those who never marry face similar risks, another study found.)