When 115-year-old Emma Morano, the oldest person in Europe and fifth oldest in the world, told The New York Times last week that what kept her alive so long was a healthy dose of raw eggs and avoiding men, single women everywhere cheered. Finally, there was an upside to being sans partner and that upside looks like it’s living well past your 100th birthday.
Although Morano wasn’t always single, she had decided to stay that way after her unhappy marriage came to an end in 1938, explaining, “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone.” Since then, Morano has lived her life on her terms with her friends and family, void of men.
She’s not the only centenarian woman claiming that no men is a major factor in living a long life. As YouBeauty wrote back in January, 109-year-old Jessie Gallan of Scotland, when asked about her tips for living so long said, “My secret to long life has been staying away from men. They’re just more trouble than they’re worth.” Well then! I think we have a pattern here.
But in all seriousness, is there something to this? Is there any scientific basis that staying away from relationships will really keep you living longer? I reached out to Dr. Aletha Maybank, Board Certified Preventative Medicine Specialist, to see whether these are just amusing anecdotes from two of the oldest living women in the world — or perhaps something more solid.
“Evidence shows that her key to life probably is related to something else other that living without a man. Many of the latest large-scale studies show that overall being married improves ones survival,” Dr. Maybank told YouBeauty. She continued:
“Studies show married couples less likely to experience cancers and heart disease. One study showed that spouses that are happily married who undergo heart bypass surgery are up to three times more likely than those unmarried to still be alive 15 years later. Women were more likely to be positively affected by a happy marriage.
However, if she happened to have gotten married and had a stressful marriage, then she may have been on point. Studies show that stressful and unhealthy marriages are linked to having heart problems… stress causes inflammation in the body, and inflammation is strongly associated to causing damage to cells and organs in our bodies.”
A 2000 study published in the Journal of American Medical Association found that a stressful relationship makes women 2.9 times more likely to suffer from heart disease than those women who are in a happy, blissful relationship. Other studies have shown that unhealthy relationships affect mental health, can cause chronic stress (which isn’t doing anyone any favors, that’s for sure), and those in these tumultuous relationships also recover from disease far slower than their counterparts in a happy relationship or marriage.
These ailments only increase with time, if the unhappy relationship isn’t nipped in the bud. Martial dissatisfaction not only weakens the immune system in both parties, but the heart disease risks that are already rampant in women due to an unhappy marriage become even more of a concern in their elderly years.
The takeaway here? Yes, an unhappy marriage or relationship is actually bad for you. It can lead to a whole boatload of mental and physical issue. If you have a penchant for “bad” boys or drama-filled relationships, then you are probably better off single. That is, if you’re looking to live a very, very long life.
But it will be a very, very long life without regular doses of ‘the love hormone.’ “Kissing, hugging, and cuddling are actually good for ones health mainly due to the release of oxytocin which is known as ‘the love hormone’ and has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as have a calming effect and relieve the effects of stress on the body,” Dr. Maybank said. “Touch also lowers the output of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone.”
The key is just finding the right person who isn’t going to give you any hassle. And, let’s be honest, some men are a hassle sometimes … but that’s probably why we love them.