Bad Marriages Take Health Toll on Women
Study Shows Marital Discord Hurts Women's Physical Health More Than Men's
WebMD News Archive
Why Bad Marriages May Affect Women's Health continued...
"It's not like men were not troubled in our study. But the results were
clear that women in this situation were more likely to gain
weight. Stress hormones facilitate depositing of intra-abdominal fat, so
the stress might make them heavier, and also raise cholesterol," he
A large body of research shows that divorce is associated with
coronary calcification in both men and women, but "in our data, it's clear
that the association of stress and heart
health is stronger in women," Smith says.
Viola Vaccarino, MD, PhD, director of the cardiovascular outcomes program at
Emory University in Atlanta, tells WebMD that it's just as likely that
metabolic syndrome difficulties cause depression, rather than the other way
"We can clearly say that people with depression are more likely to have
a metabolic syndrome, and vice versa," she says. "People with
depression may be more likely to develop metabolic syndrome due to lack of physical activity, or inability to
choose a healthy diet. But this is the first time
I have seen this gender difference, that depression can affect women more than
Henry and Smith are to present the study March 5 at the American
Psychosomatic Society's annual meeting in Chicago.
Are Bad Marriages More Stressful for Women?
Henry says the gender difference they found is important because heart
disease is the biggest killer of women, as well as men, and "we are still
learning a lot about how relationship factors and emotional distress are
related to heart disease."
Smith, who is heading a larger University of Utah study on the role of marriage quality in heart
disease, says it's too soon to conclude that stress may make women more
vulnerable to physical problems than men, but that's what this latest research
However, he adds, "it's a little premature to say they would lower their
risk of heart disease if they improved the tone and quality of their marriages,
or dumped their husbands."
Other studies, he says, are trying to determine whether improving marriage
might boost the health of marital partners.