Published in the scientific journal Psychoneuroendocrinology
, a study conducted by Carnegie-Mellon University suggests that marriied people, on the whole, are healthier than singletons. Researchers took samples of saliva collected from 572 healthy adults aged 21-55 on three non-consecutive days. Multiple samples were taken during each 24-hour period and tested for cortisol.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone, which is produced by the adrenal gland. It is released in times of stress and in response to low blood-glucose concentration. It functions to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis, suppressing the immune system, and as an aid in the metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. It also decreases bone formation.
Researchers at the university determined that married people exhibited lower levels of the cortisol than those who never married or were previously married. The study is believed to support the notion that single persons, including the divorced and widowed, exhibit more, face more psychological stress than married individuals. It may explain, say researchers, how human relationships influence health.
Researchers also compared each person’s daily rhythm of cortisol. Married people exhibited a faster decline of the presence of cortisol, which is a pattern that coincides with less heart disease and longer survival among cancer patients.