Cancer patient Cao Dongxian enters a hotel where he stays, near the Peking Union hospital, in Beijing, China, April 6, 2016. Picture taken April 6, 2016. Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

A new study has revealed that cancer patients live longer if they are married. The study, published in the journal Cancer, analysed data of nearly 800,000 Californians who were diagnosed with the deadly disease from 2002 to 2009. They all had invasive cancer and were followed through 2012.

The researchers found out that white cancer patients survived better when married, although Asian Pacific Islanders and Hispanics benefitted less. The rate of death was found to be 27 percent higher among bachelors and 19 percent higher among spinsters when compared with those patients who were married. Interestingly, money did not have an impact on longevity.

“These patterns were very minimally explained by the married patients having greater economic resources. Specifically, we looked at health insurance and we looked at living in a higher socioeconomic status neighbourhood. Even though these played a small role, they really didn't explain the greater survival among the married,” said study author Scarlett Lin Gomez, a research scientist with the Cancer Prevention Institute of California.

According to the researchers, social support is a key driver in the fight against cancer. The researchers even urged doctors to ask unmarried patients if they had someone who can provide physical and emotional support. Unfortunately, as the number of unmarried people is rising, the study has extremely important public health implications.

If chances of survival of unmarried patients are to be increased, it is important “to understand the specific reasons behind these associations.” This will enable the unmarried patients receive interventions.

However, it should be noted that the study simply found a connection between marriage and cancer. It no way proves a cause and effect link.

“Certainly we're not advocating for getting married as a means to improve your outcome. But single people can help themselves by maintaining stronger social networks, and being able to rely on friends and family members for help,” Gomez told U.S. News.