A new study says marital bliss has beneficial health effects. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University said being married reduces levels of a stress hormone called cortisol. Researchers tested for cortisol in the saliva of 572 adults on three different days. Multiple samples were taken throughout each day. The researchers found that the married people had less cortisol than people who were single, separated, divorced or widowed. The researchers said: "Married people tend to be healthier…but the mechanisms through which this occurs remain unclear."
The hormone cortisol has different functions in our body. It regulates blood sugar levels, immune responses and inflammation. It can increase the risk of heart disease and the chances of surviving cancer. High levels of cortisol are linked to mental conditions like anxiety and depression. Dr Sheldon Cohen said the data provide, "important insights into the way in which our intimate social relationships can…influence our health". Researcher Brian Chin added: "It is exciting to discover a physiological pathway that may explain how relationships influence health and disease."