The News Story – The most important breast cancer findings of 2014
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and news sources have been abuzz with prevention tips, ongoing research, and celebrity fundraising events.
Along those lines, the Huffington Post published a quick summary of the “most important” discoveries this year relating to breast cancer. Among them, “a simple blood test could soon predict breast cancer risk,” and “certain birth control pills may increase risk.” On the recovery side, the Post reported that both “good quality sleep” and high levels of vitamin D seem to be important to breast cancer recovery and survival.
One crucial aspect to recovery that no media outlet reported on? Whether a woman is wearing a wedding ring.
The New Research – Far better than a pink ribbon
As a public display of both their medical awareness and their ideological zeal, the American public has in recent years taken to wearing pink during October to signify their support for research into effective treatment of breast cancer, a distinctively female disease. Given this highly visible expression of concern for finding ways to combat this terrible disease, it may seem more than a little ironic that research recently published in Health Psychology shows that those fighting the disease are most likely to fare well when sustained by an institution that has been generally ignored or even attacked—namely, marriage.
The importance of marital status loomed very large when researchers at the University of Miami recently assessed the well-being of 163 early-stage breast-cancer patients who had undergone cancer surgery five to thirteen years earlier. Indeed, though the researchers examined a number of demographic variables in their analysis, they found that “the impact of marital status” was “most striking.” Compared to the breast-cancer patients who were single, the breast-cancer patients who had “partners” (i.e., husbands in most cases) suffered from significantly “less depression,” “less mood disturbance,” and “less social disruption.” Overall, patients with partners experienced “better quality of life” than did single peers with the same medical condition.
In the final analysis, pink ribbons may count for far, far less than wedding bands in securing the well-being of women trying to beat breast cancer.
(Source: Bryce J. Christensen and Robert W. Patterson, “New Research,” The Family in America, July 2006, Vol. 20 Number 7. Study: Charles S. Carver et al., “Optimistic Personality and Psychosocial Well-Being During Treatment Predict Psychosocial Well-Being Among Long-Term Survivors of Breast Cancer,” Health Psychology 24 : 508-516.)