Men's health is affected by divorces and by living alone for many years

February 27, 2022

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Men's health is affected by divorces and by living alone for many years

Today, more than one million Danes live alone. This number has increased rapidly since the beginning of the 1990s. This is also true of the US, Australia and other countries such as Russia and the EU.

A new Danish study shows that, unlike women, men who live alone for a number of years and who have experienced several breakups face increased health risks.

What the researchers say: “Both living alone for more than six years and experiencing two or more breakups increase the risk of high inflammation in men, but not in women,” explained the lead author. “Here inflammation refers to chronic tissue irritation and not conditions caused by virus or bacteria. And in this, men are especially vulnerable. We need to consider introducing special initiatives targeted at men who suffer breakups or live alone for a period of years.”

The researchers followed 4,835 middle-aged men and women through file data, questionnaire data and blood tests for inflammation over a period of more than 20 years.

“Chronic tissue irritation in the body is associated with a number of diseases, including arteriosclerosis, dementia and increased mortality. We also know that a minor, but long-term CRP increase is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and such an increase is also seen in this group of men,” said the researchers.

The connection between living alone or having suffered several marital breakdowns and increased inflammation in men was constant even after taking into account factors such as age, level of education, personality, disease, acute inflammation and significant adverse events during childhood.

Breakups can be prevented, alleviating some of the increased health risks, but the results of the study do not mean that you should stay with your partner at any cost, the researchers stress, as previous research clearly shows that difficult relationships can also damage your health.

“Elderly men and women demonstrate pervasive, but very different patterns when it comes to seeking out social contact. Women are far more prone to seek out the company of other people than men. This may be the reason why women who live alone have a lot of social contact, while men who live alone can be less likely to seek out company,” said the lead author.

So, what? This is an interesting study. Recent research has shown that isolation and loneliness are, perhaps, the greatest health hazards that we face as a society. This will rise with the increasing reliance on social media for contact and the depersonalization of society generally.

What this study shows is that this will affect men more than women.

Dr Bob Murray

Bob Murray, MBA, PhD (Clinical Psychology), is an internationally recognised expert in strategy, leadership, influencing, human motivation and behavioural change.

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