The researchers reviewed more than 30 published studies -- a type of research called meta-analysis where a study reviews already published data -- and found an unexpected association between divorce and an early death. But, the Arizona Republic reports, the study cannot conclusively state that divorce and early death are directly related.
Arizona Republic reports that the research led by UA psychology professor David Sbarra and published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science involved more than 6.5 million adults from 11 countries, and the studies reviewed were published over the last 25 years. The studies chosen for analysis were strongly controlled for factors like weight, smoking and other medical conditions.
What surprised the researchers, according to Arizona Republic, was that the risks they saw associated with divorce were on par with the risks of heavy smoking, excessive drinking or limited exercise:
"We thought there was some risk," [Sbarra] said. "But we didn't think the risk elevation would be as substantial as other very serious public-health risks."
The study did note that most divorced individuals were often able to move on and remarry, but about 10 percent had trouble. The study found that men were more at risk for early death after divorce, compared to women, which Arizona Republic reports Sbarra stating could be because women traditionally do more "health-related planning."
Sbarra said that more research needs to be conducted on the effects of divorce on biological health before early death and divorce can be tied more conclusively.
[H/T Urban Christian]