ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
Naprapathy: A Hands-On Approach to Pain Management
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Most Kids With Type 1 Diabetes Lack Vitamin D
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Tips to Ease an Aching Back
CANCER
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Few Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Record Systems
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
DIABETES
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Vitamin D Vital for the Heart
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Warmer-Than-Average Temperatures Raise Migraine Risk
Database Helps Assess Your Breast Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Green Tea May Ward Off Eye Disease
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
FITNESS
Be Healthy, Spend Less
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
Household Insecticides May Be Linked to Autoimmune Diseases
Healthy Living Adds Years to Life
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
MEN'S HEALTH
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
MENTAL HEALTH
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Add your Article

Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health

THURSDAY, March 5 (HealthDay News) -- The cardiovascular damage wrought by an unhappy marriage may be greater for women than men, a new study shows.

While both men and women in "strained" unions, those marked by arguing and being angry, were more likely to feel depressed than happier partners, the women in the contentious relationships were more likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and other markers of what's known as "metabolic syndrome," said study author Nancy Henry, a doctoral candidate in clinical healthy psychology at the University of Utah.

Metabolic syndrome is known to boost the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

While many studies have linked poor marriages with poor health, Henry said she believes her is the first to tie in depression as a possible route through which the strain boosts the risk of metabolic syndrome. "The negativity triggers the depression, which is associated with the metabolic syndrome," said Henry. This was found true, she said, only for the women in her study.

For the study, she interviewed 276 couples, median age 54, by questionnaires, asking about positive aspects of marriage quality such as mutual support and sharing, and negative aspects such as arguing, feelings of hostility and disagreeing over important issues such as kids, sex, money and in-laws. She asked about depressive symptoms.

Couples were married, on average, 27.5 years, most in their original marriage.

"For the most part, you could say, these were happily married couples," Henry said. About 20 percent of the men and 12 percent of the women in the study had metabolic syndrome (diagnosed when three of the five risk factors were present).

The men were as likely as the women to become depressed with marital strain, but the link between negativity, depression and metabolic syndrome only applied to women, she said. The depression in women accounted for the metabolic syndrome, she said.

Exactly why isn't known, but Henry speculated that women may take the negativity more to heart and ruminate about it more than men.

Henry can't say specifically how much risk of metabolic syndrome is attributed to the negativity. Earlier research has linked negativity in marriage with an increased risk of heart disease for both men and women.

She was expected to present her findings Thursday at the American Psychosomatic Society annual meeting, in Chicago.

Another researcher in the field called the findings interesting, especially the new focus on depression as a possible mechanism through which the strain influences the metabolic syndrome.

"The study raises the importance of increasing our understanding of how depression influences biological processes that result in metabolic syndrome -- and why these processes might be stronger for women than men," said Debra Umberson, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.

The findings, Umberson said, fit in with her research finding a strong effect of marital strain on partners' overall health. But the gender difference finding differs from her research. "Basically, we find that marital strain undermines the health of men and women," she said, adding that perhaps the men in Henry's study had their health influenced in a different way.

More research is needed, Henry said, to figure out how the pieces fit together.

Meanwhile, Umberson said: "Choose your partner carefully. A strained marriage is bad for your health." If it's already strained, she said, focus on reducing conflict.

- Kathleen Doheny

More information

To learn about improving a marriage, visit the American Psychological Association.



SOURCES: Nancy Henry, Ph.D., candidate, clinical health psychology, University of Utah, and clinical psychology intern, Salt Lake City VA Healthcare System; Debra Umberson, Ph.D., professor, sociology, University of Texas at Austin; March 5, 2009, presentation, American Psychosomatic Society annual meeting, Chicago

Last Updated: March 05, 2009

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