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Happy marriage 'helps wounds to heal faster'

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Dr Jean Philipe Gouin from Ohio State University said married couples who display "more positive social interactions" heal quicker than those who have a less-positive relationship. Photo: Getty Images

Dr Jean Philipe Gouin from Ohio State University said married couples who display "more positive social interactions" heal quicker than those who have a less-positive relationship. Photo: Getty Images

Dr Jean Philipe Gouin from Ohio State University said married couples who display "more positive social interactions" heal quicker than those who have a less-positive relationship. Photo: Getty Images

COUPLES who have a happy marriage enjoy the added benefit of faster healing from cuts, a conference was told yesterday.

It's thanks to the so-called love hormone oxytocin, which is most commonly known to stimulate and sustain labour in late pregnancy.

Dr Jean Philipe Gouin from Ohio State University told a conference in Trinity College, Dublin, that in his study, individuals with the highest levels of oxytocin showed the fastest wound healing.

"We created small blister wounds on the forearms of 37 married couples and then assessed the rate of healing for two weeks," he told the Pychoneuroimmunology Research Society conference.

He said married couples who display "more positive social interactions" heal quicker than those who have a less-positive relationship.

"Social relationships can have many beneficial effects on health. This research, funded by the US National Institutes of Health, shows that the hormone oxytocin may be an important link between the quality of our relationships and state of our health.

"Each couple was also asked to take part in a structured interaction task in which each participant solicited and offered social support to their partner.

"During these tasks, we systematically evaluated the quality of the interaction between the couples, and measured the hormone oxytocin in blood samples," he said.

"Participants who displayed more positive behaviours in our laboratory setting showed faster wound healing than their less-positive counterparts."

Purpose

The conference also heard that a strong sense of purpose in life may reduce the inflammation that can cause pain in old people who have long-term disease.

"Our new study shows that in people with similar levels of chronic disease burden having a strong sense of purpose in life is linked with lower levels of inflammation," said Elliot Friedman of the University of Wisconsin.

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He added: "This work joins a growing scientific literature showing links between positive psychological functioning and better profiles of health.

"Age is often associated with greater burden of disease, and more disease is typically associated with higher levels of inflammation which themselves predict worse health down the line."

However, he said it was necessary to be cautious about the results also : "It's important not to overstate the significance of this association. The relationship between well-being and inflammation is not as strong as between inflammation and age, obesity, or clinical disease conditions, for example."


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