(HealthDay News) – Being married during midlife protects against a higher risk of premature death, according to a study published in the January issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

Ilene C. Siegler, PhD, from Duke University in Durham, NC, and colleagues evaluated marital history and timing on mortality during midlife, including assessing the role of pre-marital personality and the role of health risk behaviors.

The researchers found that lifetime marital history predicts premature mortality. Compared to those currently married, those never married have 2.33 times the risk of death and those ever married have 1.64 times the risk of death. Not having a partner during midlife has the highest risk of death (hazard ratio [HR], 3.1 formerly married; HR, 2.59 remaining single). Personality and health risk behaviors reduce but do not eliminate the impact of marital status.

“Consistency of marital status during midlife suggests that lack of a partner is associated with midlife mortality,” the authors write.

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