Bachelors are twice as likely to die of cancer compared with married men, a study has found.

Researchers who looked at cancer death rates over 40 years found that men and women who had never married were more likely to die from 13 of the most common types of cancer including lung, breast and prostate.

But the increased death rate was most stark in unmarried men over the age of 70 and it has been increasing every decade.

Norwegian scientists looked at the records of 440,000 men and women diagnosed with cancer from 1970 to 2007, and compared them with marital status.


Never being married when diagnosed rather than being divorced or widowed doubled the death rate in men from 18 to 35 per cent and in women more modestly from 17 to 22 per cent.

Previous studies have shown married people generally have better health and live longer than single people, as they tend not to smoke and drink as heavily, and have better mental health. The researchers at the University of Oslo say this is likely to be a factor in cancer death rates.

They also suggested that married people are probably diagnosed earlier as they tend to visit the doctor more and may comply better with treatment as they have a spouse to support them.

Mortality rates for unmarried men have gone up by 3.4 per cent every decade compared with those who are married.

For divorced and widowed men, the death rate is slightly higher than married men but not as high as bachelors.

Dr Safia Danovi, from Cancer Research UK, said: "Cancer survival is a complex issue and there may be many reasons for these findings.

"Early diagnosis is still key to beating cancer so people should visit their doctor as soon as they notice a change that is unusual for them, whether they're married or not."