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Bachelor Beware: Study finds you're more likely to die from cancer

Ben Raef may have gotten married at just the right time--about a year-and-a-half ago he noticed a lump along his jaw-line and was diagnosed withHodgkin's Lymphoma.

While he likes to think he stays on top of his health--he has some single buddies don't.

"I do have some friends who don't go to the doctor as often as they need to because they want to save money for whatever reason," Ben said.

Maybe that's one reason bachelors fight an uphill battle with cancer.

For 37 years--ending in 2007--researchers at the University of Oslo tracked the survival rates of male cancer patients and compared their marital status.

The diagnosis wasn't good for men who had never been married--with the likelihood of them dying from cancer nearly doubling from 18% to 35%.

Baylor-All Saints oncologist Dr. Assad Dean called the study intriguing and highlights the importance of not trying to fight cancer alone.

"I think that I see those that have the support tend to do better because they have that emotional scaffolding, they have someone who is encouraging them and rallying behind them," Dr. Dean said. “There is that support both emotional and psychological and there isn’t a feeling of loneliness or anxiety associated with having to face cancer.”

Luckily for Ben he had Andrea--the couple married only a few of months before his diagnosis.

Ben would have gone to the doctor at some point but Andrea encouraged him to go right away.

The outcome may have been different had he waited.

"I asked Dr. Dean that same question,” Andrea said. “Okay, what if we had waited another couple of months, what would the prognosis have been and he said it would have been a lot different so luckily, maybe he did have me a little bit nudging him a little bit to go see the right doctor and get a biopsy."

Ben was diagnosed at stage one and after four months of chemotherapy he's doing great.

Researchers theorize that married men may be healthier at diagnosis and ultimately stick to treatment plans better than their bachelor buddies.

Whatever the reason Ben is certain about one thing.

"Yeah,” Ben said. “I guess I got to thank God for being married."

And they lived happily ever after.



Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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