Years Lived Alone And / Or Serial Break-Ups Strongly Linked to Inflammation in Men

Summary: Men who spend several years living alone or experience serial relationship breakups are at increased risk of inflammation, a new study reports.

Source: BMJ

Living alone for several years and/or experiencing serial relationship break-ups are strongly linked to raised levels of inflammatory markers in the blood–but only in men–finds a large population study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Although the inflammation was classified as low grade, it was persistent, and most likely indicates a heightened risk of age-related ill health and death, suggest the researchers.

Divorce and committed relationship break-ups, which are often followed by a potentially lengthy period of living alone, have been associated with a heightened risk of poor physical and mental health, lowered immunity, and death.

But most previously published studies have focused on the impact of one partnership dissolution, and then usually only on marital break-ups.

The researchers therefore wanted to find out what impact an accumulated number of partnership break-ups or years lived alone might have on the immune system response in middle-age, and whether gender and educational attainment might be influential.

They drew on information submitted to the Copenhagen Aging and Midlife Biobank (CAMB) study by 4835 participants, all of whom were aged between 48 and 62.

Information on serial partnership break-ups, which included 83 deaths of the partner, was supplied by 4612 (3170 men and 1442 women); and information on the number of years lived alone was supplied by 4835 (3336 men and 1499 women) for the period 1986 to 2011.

Years lived alone were categorized as: under 1 year, defined as the reference group as this is very common and considered normal; 2–6 years; and 7 or more years.

Information on potentially influential factors was also obtained: age; educational attainment; early major life events (loss of a parent, financial worries, family conflict, foster care); weight (BMI); long term conditions; medicines likely to affect inflammation (statins, steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants); recent bouts of inflammation; and personality trait scores (neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness).

The inflammatory markers interleukin 6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured in blood samples.

Around half the participants had experienced a partnership break-up, and a similar percentage had lived more than 1 year alone (54% of women, 49% of men).

Around 1 in 5 had 10 or fewer years of education, and around 6 out of 10 had one or more long term conditions. Around half had experienced early major life events, and half of the women and almost two thirds of the men were overweight or obese.

Among men, the highest levels of inflammatory markers were found in those who had experienced the most partnership break-ups. They had 17% higher levels of inflammatory markers than those in the reference group. Similarly, levels of inflammatory markers were up to 12% higher in the group who had spent the most years living alone (7 or more).

And the highest levels of both inflammatory markers for years lived alone were observed among men with high educational attainment and 2–6 years living alone (CRP), and 7 or more years spent alone (IL-6).

But these findings were observed only among the men; no such associations were found among the women.

Men tend to externalize their behavior following a partnership break-up, by drinking, for example, whereas women tend to internalize, manifest in depressive symptoms, which may influence inflammatory levels differently, note the researchers.

This shows a man walking alone
Divorce and committed relationship break-ups, which are often followed by a potentially lengthy period of living alone, have been associated with a heightened risk of poor physical and mental health, lowered immunity, and death. Image is in the public domain

And the study only included a relatively small number of women (1499) which might also explain the discrepancy, they add.

This is an observational study, and as such, can’t establish cause. And the researchers acknowledge that as the average age of the participants was 54, when the full consequences of exposure to inflammatory chemicals may not yet have peaked. Men also generate stronger inflammatory responses than women of the same age, they point out.

But immune system competence tends to tail off with age, often leading to systemic low grade inflammation which is thought to have a key role in several age-related diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes, they explain.

“Small numbers of breakups or years lived alone is not in itself a risk of poor health, but the combination of (many) years lived alone and several break-ups is in our study shown to affect both CRP and IL-6 levels significantly,” write the researchers.

“The levels of inflammation in our study are low, but they are also significant, clinically relevant, and most likely a risk factor for increased mortality,” they point out, adding that there are “notable numbers of people living with low level inflammation.”

They continue: “Since the number of one-person households has been increasing throughout the past 50–60 years in most high-income countries, this group of people going through relationship break-ups, or who are living on their own for different reasons, are part of at-risk groups.”

About this inflammation research news

Author: Press Office
Source: BMJ
Contact: Press Office – BMJ
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original Research: The findings will appear in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

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  1. More feminist propaganda. These people are so wicked and dishonest. They will do anything to turn a man into a slave for women. The law is against men in relationships and relationships have become too dysfunctional for men. The inflammation you talk about must have been caused by men burned by women and relationships. The men then decide to live alone.

    Remember that men are contented creatures. We work hard and want to relax at home in peace. But billions of men, thanks to life experiences and the internet, have realised that peace is not really possible if you are married. Most of my own mental torture is caused by my entitled wife. Money is never enough for her. My finances are destroyed. I am facing loss of my business on top of that I owe the IRS. All she did was waste our savings. I was far better off by myself. Never again..

    I wish other men like my dad and uncles had warned me as a young man.. I have seen my dad and uncles suffer yet still pretend that their lives were great. The end result was I was brainwashed to think my life would be different. I have openly heard a few of them wish for early death. Some didn’t even bother to take care of themselves any more and deteriorated.

    Now I also wish for an early death. Wives will nag you to death, then collect your pension and life insurance. This is their purpose in life. They need someone nag to reduce their own anxiety and stress. It then falls on the husband. I am 47 now lived thru 20 years of living hell. Stuck to it to raise my boys. All the older males in my family are gone except the ones who live a single life. The rest were stressed to death by their monster wives.

    Anyway, I keep it honest with my sons. I want the best for them. I told him if they want peace then they should never ever marry nor cohabitate, but concentrate on themselves. If they want children then get a surrogate. They can’t have both a wife and happiness at the same time. It’s a myth. Five minutes of pleasure a week is not worth a life of mental torture, legal problems and loss of finances. Learn to love yourself. Save your own life. Don’t be a brainwashed fool for five minutes of sex. It ain’t worth it.

    Most men deep down know that if they want to live long,then they should avoid relationships and cohabitation. The western world is now garbage. Wake up and smell it. No one warned me. But I am warning you. Follow your guts. Don’t be a brainwashed fool. Beauty fades and the real ugliness surfaces. .

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