Divorce can be dangerous to your health, according to a New York Times article by Tara Parker-Pope.  A study by Linda Waite, a sociology professor at University of Chicago, will be published in the September issue of The Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Her research, which included interviews with 8,652 men and women, indicated that divorce or death of a spouse affected their physical health in a permanent way.  This may be the result of stress causing a change at the cellular level.

“When your spouse is getting sick and about to die or your marriage is getting bad and about to die, your stress levels go up,” said Waite.  “You’re not sleeping well, your diet gets worse, you can’t exercise, you can’t see your friends. It’s a whole package of awful events.”

About 20 percent of the divorced or widowed people interviewed had more chronic health problems like heart disease, diabetes and cancer, compared with those who had been continuously married. Previously married people also had more mobility problems, like difficulty walking or climbing stairs.  Remarriage led to some health improvement, but people in second marriages still had 12 percent more chronic health problems and 19 percent more mobility problems than continuously married people.