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Love and Longevity

Goals

To obtain a list of scientific studies and articles that discuss how love and/or healthy relationships impacts longevity for the purposes of writing an article.

Early Findings

Preliminary research found five current scientific studies and articles that discuss love and/or healthy relationships and their impact on longevity and o

HARVARD STUDY

  • In 2017, the Harvard Gazette published an article examining an ongoing Harvard study that began in 1938 and tracked 268 Harvard sophomores to determine what factors lead to healthy and happy lives.
  • As of 2017, only 19 of the original cohort are still alive and in their 90s, but later, the study was expanded to include the subjects' offspring, who eventually numbered 1,300 and were in their 50s and 60s in 2017.
  • The researchers "studied the participants’ health trajectories and their broader lives, including their triumphs and failures in careers and marriage."
  • The findings show that "our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health."
  • In addition, the study revealed that "close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives."

MARRIED PATIENTS AND HEART DISEASE

  • A study from the European Society of Cardiology found that "marriage is a vital factor affecting the survival of patients who have had a heart attack."
  • The study was conducted on 929,552 adult patients with cardiovascular risk factors or who had a previous heart attack to "study the effect of marital status on survival."
  • Married patients were 14% more likely to survive a cardiovascular event than single patients.
  • In addition, married people with high cholesterol were 16% more likely to be alive at the end of the study, married people with diabetes had a 14% higher survival rate, and married people with high blood pressure had a 10% higher survival rate.
  • Dr. Paul Carter, lead author of the study, stated, "Marriage, and having a spouse at home, is likely to offer emotional and physical support on a number of levels ranging from encouraging patients to live healthier lifestyles, helping them to cope with the condition and helping them to comply to their medical treatments."

MARITAL QUALITY AND BODY WEIGHT

  • A 2018 study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that "a supportive marital relationship is associated with healthier body weight in midlife."
  • The study was conducted on 2,636 middle-aged adults in the United States who participated in two self-reported surveys on weight and marital quality 10 years apart.
  • The findings indicate that involvement of a spouse in obesity prevention and treatment would be beneficial.
  • Marital strain was not associated with weight gain or loss, but marital support was "inversely associated with weight gain."
  • Researchers ultimately concluded that "a supportive marital relationship facilitates a behavioral regulatory function of marriage—spouses encourage each other to engage in healthy behaviors and avoid unhealthy practices, which in turn leads to healthier weight."
  • In addition, "positive experiences in the marital relationship may directly contribute to reducing an individual’s emotional problems, which in turn may decrease risk of unhealthy behaviors and thereby promote the maintenance of healthy weight."

RELATIONSHIPS AND HEALTHY AGING

  • Louis Cozolino, professor of psychology at Pepperdine University has written a book titled, "Timeless: Nature’s Formula for Health and Longevity" in which he states, "of all the experiences we need to survive and thrive, it is the experience of relating to others that is the most meaningful and important."
  • Cozolino says that the human brain is wired for interpersonal connection and therefore, a "life that maximizes social interaction and human-to-human contact is good for the brain at every stage, particularly for the aging brain."
  • Cozolino's earlier book, "The Neuroscience of Human Relationships," discussed that "people who have more social support tend to have better mental health, cardiovascular health, immunological functioning, and cognitive performance."
  • The article also states that "social relationships help calm our stress-response system" because they lower the stress hormone cortisol, which is known to "wreak havoc on our physical and emotional health."

LOVE AND HEALTH

  • An article from A&Z Pharmaceutical, Inc. discusses the many benefits of love on a person's health.
  • Love has been shown in studies to release dopamine and oxytocin, which are chemicals that release feelings of euphoria.
  • In addition, oxytocin "lowers blood pressure, stress hormones and improves overall mood and well being."
  • According to Christopher Suhar, MD, a cardiologist and director of Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, "One theory on why love is good for your health is that blood pressure responds to calmness and peace… If you’re in love, you’re calmer and more at peace, which could translate into lower blood pressure."
  • Moreover, people in healthy relationships are likely to have higher self-esteem, which "lowers both men’s and women’s chances of becoming depressed."

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