Comments on
What Does Marriage Have to Do with Surviving Cancer? Part 1


When I was out of the country a few weeks ago, the latest study proclaiming that single people are doomed followed me around. It was in the headlines of newspapers in the airports, and a story about it in another language was shown to me by a journalist at a conference where I was speaking – about the stereotyping and stigmatizing of single people that I call singlism. Ironic, in a way.

I’m talking about the study of marital status and cancer, claiming, predictably, that married cancer patients fare better than single ones: they are more likely to get diagnosed before the cancer has spread, they are more likely to receive the treatment considered definitive, and they are more likely to survive their cancer.

4 thoughts on “What Does Marriage Have to Do with Surviving Cancer? Part 1

  • October 19, 2013 at 9:27 am

    I was thinking…the researchers didn’t do any investigation to see if their “lack of social support” hypothesis was true. But we here have indeed seen research showing that single people don’t lack support, that they’re more connected with friends and with extended family. So that kind of shoots down the “lack of social support” hypothesis.

    There’s also the fact that, if I remember correctly, studies like the Termin Life Cycle study show that always single have the same or very nearly the same lifespan as always married people. If cancer were more of a risk for single people wouldn’t there be a bigger difference? Unless this study threw in widows and divorced people with the always-single, but I thought I read somewhere they controlled for that.

    My own theories are that we could be looking at a lack of insurance, as if you’re married you can be on your partner’s insurance and get other benefits, which might not only make more medical care available but also make one less reluctant to see the doctor on a regular basis.

    My other theory is that singlism plays a role somehow. Perhaps the medical community is more encouraging to those who are married. Or perhaps singles themselves at times buy into the stereotypes.

    I remember another detail that single men are particularly at risk. I know that it is a common perception that men don’t go to the doctor. I wonder if there’s an societal assumption that medical care is part of a women’s area, and that men assume that they’ll leave that up to their wife. Even single men might unconsciously have this in the back of their minds, that medical issues aren’t something a man is supposed to worry about. A possible source for the “nagging” hypothesis. If it’s true it’s really more about sexism than about being single.

    Reply
    • October 21, 2013 at 5:28 pm

      Great points! I’m going to post Part 2 later tonight. You could have written a lot of it, and more, yourself!

      Reply
  • October 20, 2013 at 12:29 am

    Cancer is cancer. It does not discriminate. One person’s body might be more receptive to treatment, another… not so much. I wasn’t aware that cancer could detect a magical, golden ring to decide who to off, and who to keep alive.

    Reply
    • October 21, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      I love your wit!

      Reply
 

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