Well Being

Gay Marriage Benefits Men’s Lifespans, But Lesbians See Rising Mortality Rates

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You know that age-old adage that folks who are married tend to live longer? Well, marriage for same-sex couples may actually lead to a longer life in homosexual men, says a new study from Denmark, but marriage may not necessarily affect everybody's lifespan in quite so positive a way.

The study took a look at the mortality (“the risk of death during a specific period of time”) and relationship status for the entirety of Denmark using its civil registry of 6.5 million adults between 1982 and 2011. Published today in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the study showed the possibility that gay marriage benefits male lifespans. It also found that marriage itself did not necessary keep people from having a high mortality rate.

There were plenty of fascinating findings in their research regarding both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. For example, opposite-sex married couples living apart saw a doubling in their mortality rate. Additionally, men and women in heterosexual relationships saw their mortality raise by 16% and 27% respectively with each successive marriage in they were married two or more times.

As for same-sex couples, researchers saw a plummet in the mortality rate among gay men after same-sex unions were legalized in Denmark as of 1989. They guessed that this may have been related to better treatment and awareness regarding HIV/AIDS. Now, homosexual men have the same mortality rate as divorced or unmarried straight men.

Unfortunately, lesbians actually faced an increase in mortality rates despite those percentages going consistently down for a long time. In particular, homosexual women seem to be at high risk for breast cancer and suicide, now holding higher mortality rates than unmarried straight couples who live together and gay married couples.

However, this study will hopefully lead to further information on why lesbians are not experiencing the same increase in lifespan. Lead author Dr. Morten Frisch, professor of epidemiology at Aalborg University, said:

“Our study expands on century-old knowledge that married people generally have lower mortality than unmarried and divorced persons. From a public health viewpoint it is important to try and identify those underlying factors and mechanisms.”

As with all studies that focus on one select nation or area, it is important to note that Denmark's life expectancy differs from that of the rest of Europe, as well as the rest of the world. Nevertheless, given that this study examined millions of people, these findings are still significant and should be given consideration when taking a look at the effects other countries have seen regarding relationships and marriage.

Photo: joseanavas on Flickr

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