The story made one of the headline news items on the BBC this morning and was repeated on at least three of the subsequent bulletins that I chance to pick up later in the day.
I am referring to the “startling” discovery that the secret to a longer life for a woman is to marry someone the same age.
Apparently marrying an older man shortens a woman’s lifespan, but having a younger husband reduces it even more, a study has found. The findings are based on the medical records of two million Danish couples.
The study by Sven Drefahl at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rosktock, Germany, shows that the greater the age gap between a woman and her husband, the shorter her life expectancy, regardless of whether he is older or younger.
And the best way a woman can do to improve her life expectancy appears to be marrying a man of about the same age.
The Drefahl report in the journal Demography claims that a woman who is between seven and nine years older than her husband has a 20% greater mortality rate than if she were with a man the same age.
Said Drefahl. “The reasons for mortality differences due to the age gap of the spouses remain unclear.” However, he speculated that women with much younger husbands may die younger on average because they experience more stress.
I look on such findings and the publicity the conclusions have been given to be no more than pure misogynic myth.
Look, the study though apparently huge — two million couples or four million Danes — is ginormous if one considers that there are just 5.5 million people living in Denmark now. How far back in the past did the researcher have to go to cull the information, if the living just exceeds the dead by only 1.5 million?
In any case, what holds good for Denmark in the past need not hold good for the rest of the world now, or even in Denmark any more.
Or if the findings have any truth ie women who marry men older or younger than themselves live shorter lives, the correlation may not be age per se but the lifestyle of the women who choose not to marry their peers in age.
Maybe women who choose partners out of their age group are greater risk takers?
Those who marry older men, especially if they are very much older, are likely to be in the mould of Anna Nicole Smith. If may well be all about love but it’s the love of money that’s the raison d’etre!
And when the old dear checks out early, the young widow would be unconsolable if she doesn’t burn the candle at both ends, with a younger man (than her dead husband) or preferably younger than herself.
Now, if that isn’t double jeopardy — based on the Drefahl study — I don’t know what is.
One doesn’t need to do a study on two million couples to come to such a conclusion. One example, that of Anna Nicole Smith could just as easily support the thesis! Better still, it could equally show that it’s not the age of the husband that brings on early death but the way the woman lives her life!