Divorce can increase the risk of early death, study suggests

New research conducted at the University of Arizona suggests that individuals who have undergone a divorce are perhaps more likely than married individuals to suffer an early death.

The research found that adults who had been divorced were 23 percent more likely to die early than members of a married couple. The risk is significant, ranking divorce among chain-smoking, binge drinking and obesity in terms of its damaging effect on one’s health.

The effects were more extreme among men than they were women. According to the research, divorced men were 31 percent more likely to suffer from early death, while divorced women were only 18 percent more likely.

“We thought there was some risk,” said Professor David Sbarra of the University of Arizona and one of the study’s authors. “But we didn’t think the risk elevation would be as substantial as other very serious public-health risks.”

The research, which was published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, drew its data from 32 studies consisting of 6.5 million adults in more than 11 countries, and over a span of 27 years.

While researchers were surprised by the significance of the health risks associated with divorce, they also cautioned against painting with too broad of a brush and assuming that divorce leads to poor health in all instances.

In many cases, it is the by-products of the divorce — not the divorce itself — that causes health problems leading to early death. Individuals who struggle with processing their divorce can suffer health problems such as depression, which can contribute to the development of heart disease.

Researchers insisted that further research was needed to provide more insight into how divorce truly affects the body’s overall health and functioning.

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

To learn more about divorce, child custody or spousal maintenance here in Texas, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


USA Today, “UA Study: Divorce can raise risk of early death” Jan. 10, 2011