ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Genes May Help Drive Rotator Cuff Injury
Low Vitamin D Raises Women's Hip Fracture Risk
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
CANCER
Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
Few Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Record Systems
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Smog Tougher on the Obese
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
DIABETES
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
DIET, NUTRITION
Antioxidant-Rich Foods Lose Nutritional Luster Over Time
Eat Up, But Eat Healthy This Holiday Season
More Educated Choose Healthier Foods, But Pay More
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Restaurant Sushi May Have More Mercury Than Store-Bought Fare
Think You Are Lead-Free? Check Your Soil
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
EYE CARE, VISION
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
Protein Might One Day Prevent Blindness
Vision Test for Young Children Called Unreliable
FITNESS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
Proven Strategies for Avoiding Colds and the Flu
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
Fatty Fish May Cut Heart Failure Risk in Men
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
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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