MONDAY, Jan. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Marriage might be good for men's bone health, but only if they get hitched when they're in their mid-20s or older, a new study suggests.
Researchers analyzed data from nearly 300 men and about 340 women across the United States, and found that men who married for the first time when they were 25 or older had stronger bones than those who married at a younger age.
They also found that men in stable marriages or live-in relationships who had never previously been separated or divorced had greater bone strength than those who'd been through a marriage breakup.
Men in stable relationships also had stronger bones than those who never married, according to the study, which was published online in the journal Osteoporosis International.
No similar links between bone health and marriage or living together were seen among women. However, there was evidence that women with supportive partners had stronger bones than those whose partners didn't appreciate them, the University of California, Los Angeles, researchers said.
This is the first time that marriage history and quality have been linked to bone health, said study senior author Dr. Carolyn Crandall, a professor of medicine at UCLA.
"There is very little known about the influence of social factors -- other than socioeconomic factors -- on bone health," Crandall said in a UCLA news release. "Good health depends not only on good health behaviors, such as maintaining a healthy diet and not smoking, but also on other social aspects of life, such as marital life stories and quality of relationships."
Getting married at a younger age might be detrimental to men's bone health because of the stress of having to provide for a family so soon, the researchers said. Those who marry young tend to have less education and lower-paying jobs, they said.
The next step in this area of research is to pinpoint exactly how marriage affects bone health, the UCLA team said.
Although the researchers found an association between marriage status and bone health, the study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about bone health.
SOURCE: University of California, Los Angeles, news release, Jan. 21, 2014