Science News

Nagging wives save lives

Tue, 9th Dec 2008

Hereís a story that might be surprising to any man with a nagging partner Ė it could actually save your life.

A Prostate Cancer CellResearchers at the University of Michigan have found that men with a wife or significant other half living with them are more likely to go for screening for prostate cancer.

They did this because while thereís some evidence that prostate cancer screening can help in picking the disease up, we know little about the reasons why men choose to go for screening or not.  Itís worth pointing out that prostate cancer screening is available from your GP on request here in the UK, but thereís no national programme, because thereís not enough evidence to   that screening really saves lives.

Writing in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, the researchers looked at nearly 2,500 men in Minnesota aged between 40 and 79. They asked them to fill in questionnaires about their family history, concerns about prostate cancer, and marital status.

First, they found that men who were worried about prostate cancer were twice as likely to go for screening, as you might expect. However, the likelihood to go for screening among men with a family history of the disease dropped if they lived alone. In fact, these men were 40 percent less likely to be screened than those who were married or had a significant other in their home.

What can we learn from this?  The obvious answer is that health professionals should be targeting messages about screening to menís partners, as well as men themselves.  But it also highlights the challenge for getting the message through to single men. Itís also worth noting that the study was done in white Caucasian men, and we donít know what might influence men from other population groups.

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