Widowed men more likely to develop advanced prostate cancer

QUEBEC CITY, Quebec — Widowed men are more likely to develop advanced prostate cancer than married men, new research shows.

The number of men suffering from prostate cancer in the U.S. is 191,930. There are currently 3.48 million widowed men living in the U.S. A recent study of men with prostate cancer found that 9.4% were single and 6.8% were widowed. This led researchers to believe there is a link between marital status and health as living with a partner promotes a healthier lifestyle. 

While many say this is due to partners reminding men about seeking regular checkups, others suggest bereavement can lead to a worse diet and drinking more booze. Researchers advise men who have lost their partners to seek support from friends and family, as loneliness can lead to poorer vigilance about their own physical health.

According to Charlotte Salmon, a Ph.D. student at the National Institute for Scientific Research in Canada, to stay healthy, widowers should seek support from family and friends and more regular medical follow-ups.

“This large group of subjects showed us that widowers were at risk of being diagnosed later than married men or men in relationships. As a result, when the diagnosis is made, the disease has often metastasized elsewhere in the body. Without a spouse’s encouragement to see a doctor or get screened if there are symptoms, cancers remain undetected longer and may be diagnosed at a more advanced stage making prognosis bleaker,” Salmon explains in a statement.

Future studies will provide a better understanding of why widowhood is associated with a greater risk of prostate cancer. Likewise, studies can show if the number of people living with men, the living environment, and other social factors can increase the risk.

The results are published in the European Journal of Epidemiology.

South West News Service writer Joe Morgan contributed to this report.