Intended for healthcare professionals


Association between mid-life marital status and cognitive function in later life: population based cohort study

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 02 July 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b2462

Marital status and dementia

The interesting study from Håkansson, et al showed that being
unmarried will increase the risk of dementia. The association between
marriage and health has been recognized in many studies. Married people
consistently have lower rates of mortality than single. Married people
suffer fewer accidents, have fewer acute and chronic conditions, and lower
hospital utilization rates than those who are unmarried. In general,
widowed, divorced and separated people have the highest number of health
problems. The result of being unmarried directly increases the risk of
dementia can be criticized because of confounding variables. There is
continuing debate as to whether this differential is due to the protective
effect of marriage or to selection of healthy people into marriage and
remarriage. This study has slowed the consistent finding after adjustment
for other risk factors of dementia. Those who were widowed in middle age
also have higher risk of cognitive impairment compared with
married/cohabiting people. The presence of the apolipoprotein E e4 allele
further increased the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in people who were
widowed. Good social activities and interaction should have positive
impact on cognitive function.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

13 July 2009
Rizaldy Pinzon
Bethesda hospital Yogyakarta Indonesia 55224