Everyone knows that divorce can be difficult and tolling, but could the ending of your marriage actually cause you to die early?
That depends on how you interpret research from the University of Arizona that suggests divorced adults are more prone to early death than married adults. The findings were based on a meta-analysis of more than 30 past studies, USA Today reported.
After tracking divorcees and married couples for 11 years, researchers found the risk of dying early to be 23 percent greater among divorced adults than married adults. Researchers even compared the negative health effects of divorce to those associated with smoking, being overweight and heavy drinking.
However, it's important to verify that the study did not conclusively determine that divorce causes premature death, USA Today reported. The study's lead author also pointed out that people should not interpret the study as meaning divorce is bad for your health while marriage is good.
In fact, the author said other research has shown that most divorcees go on to lead happy, fulfilling lives. But there are about 10 percent of divorced adults who struggle emotionally, which can have an adverse effect on health, he said. For example, depression can lead to cardiovascular disease, he explained.
Another issue posed by USA Today was whether the poor health was caused by divorce, or if the divorce was caused by poor health habits? The lead researcher said that there are likely factors that increase the likelihood for both divorce and early death, like substance abuse.
What we can take from this information is the importance of handling your divorce in the healthiest way possible. For many, this is done with the assistance of an experienced family law attorney who can be both an advocate and a shoulder to lean on.
Source: USA Today, "UA study: Divorce can raise risk of early death," Anne Ryman, Jan. 10, 2012