Happy marriages may encourage men to go for a colonoscopy and get screening for colon cancer. The researchers looked at over 800 male-female couples across the U.S. aged 55 to 90. The researchers found that married men were 20 percent more likely to undergo a colonoscopy over the course of five years, compared to single men.
The rate was nearly 30 percent for men in happy marriages, and if the wife was educated the rate rose to 40 percent.
On the other hand, women in marriages, happy or not, did not see an increased rate of undergoing a colonoscopy, compared to single women. Furthermore, their husbands’ education did not have any effect either.
Study director Dr. William Dale said, “Women are thought to control the health capital in most households. They act as health gatekeepers, overseeing their husband’s health choices and directing decisions at the margins. Her decisions influence both partners. We suspect they depend more on alternate support sources, such as friends and other relatives.” Women generally receive fewer benefits from marriage compared to men.
“We suspect that women who are more emotionally invested in their marriage are more likely to encourage healthy behaviors in their husbands. Husbands are more likely to take this advice when they view their wives as supportive. But our data suggest that they will more often do it with proper encouragement and support from their spouse. Our goal now is to engage the wives, to have them in the office when we discuss cancer screening with the husband.” concluded Dale.