Japanese woman turns 117 years old, extends record as world’s oldest person

TOKYO (Reuters) – Kane Tanaka has extended her record as the world’s oldest person by celebrating her 117th birthday at a nursing home in Fukuoka in southern Japan.

Tanaka marked her birthday with a party on Sunday along with staff and friends at the nursing home, television footage from local broadcaster TVQ Kyushu Broadcasting Co showed.

Tanaka, whose birthday was on Jan. 2, took a bite from a slice of her big birthday cake. “Tasty,” she said with a smile. “I want some more.”

Tanaka was last year confirmed as the oldest living person, aged 116 years 66 days old as of March 9, according to Guinness World Records.

Tanaka’s record age is symbolic of Japan’s fast-ageing population, which coupled with its falling birthrate is raising concerns about labor shortages and prospects for future economic growth.

The number of babies born in Japan fell an estimated 5.9% last year to fewer than 900,000 for the first time since the government started compiling data in 1899, according to Japan’s welfare ministry.

Tanaka was born prematurely in 1903 and married Hideo Tanaka in 1922, Guinness World Records said. The couple had four children and adopted a fifth.

Reporting by Akiko Okamoto and Junko Fujita; Editing by David Holmes

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

A Jamaican woman born 117 years ago has become the oldest person in the world after the death of Emma Morano, the Italian woman who was previously the oldest human being on the planet when she died at 117 on Saturday.

Morano, who was thought to have been the last surviving person born in the 1800s, was also one of the five oldest people in recorded history.

According to the Gerontology Research Group, the world’s oldest registered person is now Violet Brown, a 117-year-old Jamaican woman.

The country’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, tweeted:

Andrew Holness (@AndrewHolnessJM)

The world’s oldest human is Jamaican Violet Brown, who was born on March 10, 1900. Congrats Violet. pic.twitter.com/AnjXdHK1Kz

April 15, 2017

The second and third oldest people are two Japanese women, Nabi Tajima and Chiyo Miyako, who were born, respectively, on 4 August 1900 and 2 May 1901.

A Spanish woman, Ana Vela, 115, who was born on 29 October 1901, is the oldest European and the fourth oldest person in the world, according to the GRG.

Last year Vela, a retired seamstress, became the oldest living Spaniard. She lives in a residential home near Barcelona, uses a wheelchair and can no longer communicate with her family or her carers.

El País reported that her 89-year-old daughter, Ana, recently had to give up her almost daily visits to her mother because of her own health. But her grandson, Antonio, who is 65, still sees her regularly.

“I always thought my grandmother would live a long time because she was doing really well when she got to 100,” he told the newspaper. “I expected she’d be the oldest person in Spain one day, but I never imagined she’d be the oldest in Europe.”

Speaking to El País last summer, Vela’s daughter said there was no secret to her mother’s extraordinarily long life. “She liked a glass of semi-sweet wine with her meals, but she was never one to drink a lot. She ate everything: meat, fish, vegetables. Her diet was very normal – just home-cooked stuff.”

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Single ladies – the secret to happiness may never be putting a ring on it.

Women who are never married and don’t have children are the most content and outlive their married counterparts, according to Paul Dolan, a behavioral science professor at the London School of Economics.

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Dolan, a best-selling author whose most recent book, “Happy Ever After: Escaping the Myths of the Perfect Life,” analyzed data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), found that married people said they were happier overall, but only when their partner was within earshot.

Women who are not married and never have kids may be happier and healthier according to data from a survey performed by a behavioral science professor at the London School of Economics. (iStock)

“Married people are happier than other population subgroups, but only when their spouse is in the room when they’re asked how happy they are. When the spouse is not present: f—–g miserable,” Dolan said at the Hay Festival in Wales on Sunday, according to The Guardian. “We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people over time, but I am going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say: if you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.”

Married men take fewer risks and “calm down” and therefore are healthier than their single counterparts, whereas women did not see the same benefits. Women’s health was mainly unaffected by marriage, but middle-aged married women reported more mental and physical problems than single ones.

“You take less risks, you earn more money at work, and you live a little longer. She, on the other hand, has to put up with that, and she dies sooner than if she never married. The healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children,” Dolan said.

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Despite the fact that never getting married may be better for women overall, there are still stigmas associated with never tying the knot, Dolan explained.

“You see a single woman of 40, who has never had children — ‘Bless, that’s a shame, isn’t it? Maybe one day you’ll meet the right guy and that’ll change.’ No, maybe she’ll meet the wrong guy and that’ll change. Maybe she’ll meet a guy who makes her less happy and healthy, and die sooner,” he said.

This article originally appeared on the New York Post.

Single vs. Married — Who Really Lives Longer?

By Bella DePaulo

“Attention, single people: stay single and die!” Headlines around the nation trumpeted this “finding,” based on a study that appeared in the September 2006 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. The articles claimed that single people simply will not live as long as married people, or even divorced or widowed people. Reading the original research report, I discovered that the actual findings looked nothing like the publicized ones.

In fact, I’ve spent the last few years researching claims that people who dare to stay single will be doomed to lives that are nasty, brutish, and short. I always read the original research, and I rarely find that the results are as extreme as the reporting. Single people seem to be fair game these days, the targets of inaccurate media reports that promote hurtful stereotypes.

Good science can be the antidote to bad stereotypes. Here is the truth about the latest study.

The recent longevity study addressed this question: In a sample of Americans 19 and older, who was most likely to die between 1989 and 1997? Media stories reported the following: Compared to people who were married, divorced people were 27% more likely to die, widowed people were 39% more likely, and people who had always been single were 58% more likely. Those sound like meaningful differences among the varieties of unmarried people. They are not. The article in the epidemiology journal concedes that the differences are not statistically significant.

The study reported death rates from different causes, and one of those results truly was striking. People who were single had a 499% greater risk of death from infectious diseases than people who were married. That was for men and women of all ages. The finding was even more stunning for ever-single men between the ages of 19 and 44: They were 908% more likely to die of infectious diseases between 1989 and 1997 than were those who were married. What do you think is the more plausible explanation for this finding — that many men were dying because they stayed single or because they had AIDS?

If you are still not sure, consider this. Staying single did not bode ill for the men who had already made it to age 65 by 1989. They were no more likely to die by 1997 (regardless of the cause) than were the men who were married.

The 499% greater risk of death from infectious diseases for all ever-single adults (men and women) got averaged in with the death rates from all other causes to produce the widely touted “finding” of the early demise of people who stay single.

Infectious diseases, though, only accounted for about 3% of all deaths in the study. Cardiovascular disease was the biggest killer, but people who had always been single were no more likely to die from it than were people who had been widowed. Cancer was the second most deadly disease; single people were no more likely than anyone to die from it. (If I were to ignore statistical significance, I would say that they were less likely than anyone, including married people, to die from cancer.)

So far, then, here’s what the study really did find. In the eight-year period, there were no meaningful differences in the death rates of Americans who were divorced, widowed, or had always been single. The people who were married in 1989 did have a slightly greater chance of making it to 1997, in part because so few of them died of infectious diseases.

But would those married people really end up living the long lives that the headlines suggested? The study ended in 1997, but their lives did not. Going forward, a sizable number of them would divorce. Then their death rate would be the same as that of the other divorced people. What about the married people who never do divorce? Setting aside those who die at the same instant as their spouse, half will become widowed. Then they, too, will have the about same odds of dying early as the other unmarried people. Getting married, then, does not seem to be the key to living a long life.

Studies that excerpt just a slice of people’s lives are not the best barometers of the likely length of those lives. More convincing evidence comes from investigations that follow people throughout the course of their lives. Probably the longest-running examination of longevity is the Terman Life-Cycle Study that began in 1921. It was a relatively small study, with 1,528 select eleven-year olds at the outset. That said, the results are noteworthy. Two groups were tied for first place in the longevity sweepstakes. One was composed of people who were consistently married. Did they live longer because they got married? No. People who got married and then divorced did not live as long, regardless of whether they remarried. Does that mean you need to get married and stay married to have the best chances of living a long life?

Time to introduce the other group who lived the longest: People who stayed single for life.

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard) is a Visiting Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Bella is a contributor to the Huffington Post, and her op-ed essays have appeared in papers such as The New York Times and Newsday.

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We may have suspected it already, but now the science backs it up: unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population. And they are more likely to live longer than their married and child-rearing peers, according to a leading expert in happiness.

Speaking at the Hay festival on Saturday, Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, said the latest evidence showed that the traditional markers used to measure success did not correlate with happiness – particularly marriage and raising children.

“We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people over time, but I am going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say: if you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.”

Men benefited from marriage because they “calmed down”, he said. “You take less risks, you earn more money at work, and you live a little longer. She, on the other hand, has to put up with that, and dies sooner than if she never married. The healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children,” he said.

Dolan’s latest book, Happy Ever After, cites evidence from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), which compared levels of pleasure and misery in unmarried, married, divorced, separated and widowed individuals.

Other studies have measured some financial and health benefits in being married for both men and women on average, which Dolan said could be attributed to higher incomes and emotional support, allowing married people to take risks and seek medical help.

However, Dolan said men showed more health benefits from tying the knot, as they took fewer risks. Women’s health was mostly unaffected by marriage, with middle-aged married women even being at higher risk of physical and mental conditions than their single counterparts.

Despite the benefits of a single, childless lifestyle for women, Dolan said that the existing narrative that marriage and children were signs of success meant that the stigma could lead some single women to feel unhappy.

“You see a single woman of 40, who has never had children – ‘Bless, that’s a shame, isn’t it? Maybe one day you’ll meet the right guy and that’ll change.’ No, maybe she’ll meet the wrong guy and that’ll change. Maybe she’ll meet a guy who makes her less happy and healthy, and die sooner.”

• This article was amended on 30 May 2019 to remove remarks by Paul Dolan that contained a misunderstanding of an aspect of the American Time Use Survey data.

If there are any men left who still believe that women are the weaker sex, it is long past time for them to think again. With respect to that most essential proof of robustness—the power to stay alive—women are tougher than men from birth through to extreme old age. The average man may run a 100-meter race faster than the average woman and lift heavier weights. But nowadays women outlive men by about five to six years. By age 85 there are roughly six women to every four men. At age 100 the ratio is more than two to one. And by age 122—the current world record for human longevity—the score stands at one-nil in favor of women.

So why do women live longer than men? One idea is that men drive themselves to an early grave with all the hardship and stress of their working lives. If this were so, however, then in these days of greater gender equality, you might expect the mortality gap would vanish or at least diminish. Yet there is little evidence that this is happening. Women today still outlive men by about as much as their stay-at-home mothers outlived their office-going fathers a generation ago. Furthermore, who truly believes that men’s work lives back then were so much more damaging to their health than women’s home lives? Just think about the stresses and strains that have always existed in the traditional roles of women: a woman’s life in a typical household can be just as hard as a man’s. Indeed, statistically speaking, men get a much better deal out of marriage than their wives—married men tend to live many years longer than single men, whereas married women live only a little bit longer than single women. So who actually has the easier life?

It might be that women live longer because they develop healthier habits than men—for example, smoking and drinking less and choosing a better diet. But the number of women who smoke is growing and plenty of others drink and eat unhealthy foods. In any case, if women are so healthy, why is it that despite their longer lives, women spend more years of old age in poor health than men do? The lifestyle argument therefore does not answer the question either.

As an experimental gerontologist, I approach this issue from a wider biological perspective, by looking at other animals. It turns out that the females of most species live longer than the males. This phenomenon suggests that the explanation for the difference within humans might lie deep in our biology.

Many scientists believe that the aging process is caused by the gradual buildup of a huge number of individually tiny faults—some damage to a DNA strand here, a deranged protein molecule there, and so on. This degenerative buildup means that the length of our lives is regulated by the balance between how fast new damage strikes our cells and how efficiently this damage is corrected. The body’s mechanisms to maintain and repair our cells are wonderfully effective—which is why we live as long as we do—but these mechanisms are not perfect. Some of the damage passes unrepaired and accumulates as the days, months and years pass by. We age because our bodies keep making mistakes.

We might well ask why our bodies do not repair themselves better. Actually we probably could fix damage better than we do already. In theory at least, we might even do it well enough to live forever. The reason we do not, I believe, is because it would have cost more energy than it was worth when our aging process evolved long ago, when our hunter-gatherer ancestors faced a constant struggle against hunger. Under the pressure of natural selection to make the best use of scarce energy supplies, our species gave higher priority to growing and reproducing than to living forever. Our genes treated the body as a short-term vehicle, to be maintained well enough to grow and reproduce, but not worth a greater investment in durability when the chance of dying an accidental death was so great. In other words, genes are immortal, but the body—what the Greeks called soma—is disposable.

Or at least that’s the idea I proposed in the late 1970s. Since then, the evidence to support this disposable soma theory has grown significantly—something I wrote about in Scientific American in September . In my own laboratory some years ago we showed that longer-lived animals have better maintenance and repair systems than short-lived animals do. The longer-lived animals are also the smarter ones, or the bigger ones, or the ones like birds and bats that evolved adaptations such as wings to make their lives safer. If you can avoid the hazards of the environment for a bit longer by flying away from danger or being cleverer or bigger, then the body is correspondingly a bit less disposable, and it pays to spend more energy on repair.

Could it be that women live longer because they are less disposable than men? This notion, in fact, makes excellent biological sense. In humans, as in most animal species, the state of the female body is very important for the success of reproduction. The fetus needs to grow inside the mother’s womb, and the infant needs to suckle at her breast. So if the female animal’s body is too much weakened by damage, there is a real threat to her chances of making healthy offspring. The man’s reproductive role, on the other hand, is less directly dependent on his continued good health.

It is too extreme to say that for all biology cares, males need only to attract a mate and then can pretty much die. A study of children in Tanzania, for example, showed that children who lost a father before the age of 15 tended to be a little shorter than their peers, and height is a reasonably good proxy for health. But children who lost a mother fared even worse—they were shorter, poorer and did not live as long as fatherless orphans. From an evolutionary point of view, however, the drivers of mating success for males are generally not the drivers of longevity. In fact, high levels of testosterone, which boost male fertility, are quite bad for long-term survival.

Women may still struggle to achieve equality in many spheres of life. To be less disposable, however, is a blessing that offers some compensation. There is evidence from studies in rodents that cells in a female body do repair damage better than in the body of a male and that surgical removal of the ovaries eliminates this difference. As many dog and cat owners can attest, neutered male animals often live longer than their intact counterparts. Indeed, the evidence supports the notion that male castration might be the ticket to a longer life.

Might the same be true of humans? Eunuchs were once members of the elite in many societies. In China, boys were castrated to enable them to serve the emperor without the risk of impregnating his concubines. In Europe, such extreme practices were used to retain the singing qualities of boys as they moved into adolescence.

The historical record is not good enough to determine if eunuchs tend to outlive normal healthy men, but some sad records suggest that they do. A number of years ago castration of men in institutions for the mentally disturbed was surprisingly commonplace. In one study of several hundred men at an unnamed institution in Kansas, the castrated men were found to live on average 14 years longer than their uncastrated fellows. Nevertheless, I doubt that many men—myself included—would choose such a drastic remedy to buy a few extra years. 

New study discovers marriage helps men live longer, but causes women to die younger

Turns out single, childless women are the happiest in the world.

Listen, we’re not saying that just because you’re in a relationship, it automatically means that one of you is better off because of it, while the other silently seethes at your every breath.

That isn’t for us to say. We’re not love scientists.

However, Paul Dolan is an actual Love Scientist – or, as he prefers to be called, a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics – and his new book Happy Ever After makes for some eye-opening reading for certain couples out there.

While there are always going to be outliers in the equation, some head-over-heels in love exceptions to the rule, by-and-large, his new research has shown that while marriage is pretty great for men, it is actually pretty bad for women.

Dolan told The Guardian that “We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people over time, but I am going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say: if you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.

“, take less risks, earn more money at work, and live a little longer. , on the other hand, has to put up with that, and dies sooner than if she never married. The healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children.”

Yikes.

Or….. good?

We’re not here to judge your life choices, perhaps single and childless was your plan all along, in which case, enjoy your healthy and happy and long life!

However, it is bad news for those already in a marriage, especially considering what Dolan had to say specifically about them:

“Married people are happier than other population subgroups, but only when their spouse is in the room when they’re asked how happy they are. When the spouse is not present: fucking miserable.”

Double yikes.

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Carrie Bradshaw’s search for “The One” kept viewers captivated for six seasons. The “Friends” finale ended with five out of the six main characters married — or on their way to the altar. The upcoming “Gilmore Girls” reboot is surrounded by rumors about whether or not Lorelai is married (and having a baby?).

The message all of these shows, and let’s face it, society, send is pretty clear: Get married or you’ll wind up sad and lonely (and probably sitting on the couch, eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s).

Well, according to a new meta-analysis of past studies by social psychologist Bella DePaulo, that “conventional” wisdom couldn’t be further from the truth.

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“I’ve been single all of my life and I love it,” DePaulo told TODAY. “Yet at social events, as a single person, I’ve always been treated as lesser than — and after learning that my single friends have repeatedly been treated the same way, I decided to try to figure out why, exactly.”

DePaulo presented her findings Friday at the American Psychological Association’s 124th Annual Convention.

The major takeaway was this: Single people are more connected to their parents, siblings and friends — and (gasp!) might actually be happier than married couples.

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And, while we’re breaking old, traditional clichés — according to DePaulo, people are choosing to be single because they want to be, not because they haven’t found “The One.”

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“There are people who thrive on solitude and get important benefits from it like spirituality, creativity and rejuvenation. They’re not single because they have ‘baggage’ or ‘issues,”” DePaulo explained.

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In her research, DePaulo located tens of thousands of studies done on marriage. Yet over the past 30 years, she could only locate 814 studies about “never married” or “single” people. Which is particularly surprising after learning that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 47 percent of Americans over 18 are unmarried (107 million people) up from 1970, when just 17 percent of Americans were not married (38 million people).

These studies on unmarried folk had significant findings: “Research comparing people who have stayed single with those who have stayed married shows that single people have a heightened sense of self-determination and they are more likely to experience ‘a sense of continued growth and development as a person,’” DePaulo wrote.

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Here’s another tidbit to take to your marriage-pushing grandmother: Self-sufficient single people were less likely to experience negative emotions. And according to DePaulo’s research, they might just be healthier, too:

  • According to a Canadian study of more than 11,000 people, lifelong single people reported better overall health than married people.
  • In a study of over 30,000 Italians, lifelong singles had lower or no different rates of cancer compared to those currently married.
  • An Australian study of more than 10,000 women in their 70s found that lifelong single women without children had the fewest diagnoses of major illnesses, the healthiest body mass index and were least likely to smoke, compared to married women, or woman who had been married in the past.

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What about that recent study that found that being married may improve your odds of surviving a heart attack? Well, according to DePaulo, studies like these don’t take into account the myriad of benefits that go along with being married. Those benefits aren’t offered to unmarried people.

“People who marry get access to more than 1,000 federal benefits and protections, many of them financial. With greater economic advantage comes greater access to many other advantages, such as better health care,” DePaulo wrote.

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According to DePaulo, these studies also don’t take into account the large population of people who were once married, but are now widowed, divorced or separated — and sometimes, they’re in worse health.

There’s one final myth DePaulo wants to debunk: Single people are not self centered.

“They actually do a lot of volunteering and aging parents are more likely to get help from single people than their married kids,” DePaulo said.

DePaulo hopes her extensive research will change the conversation around being single and reverse the decades-long stigma. For her, it was heartening to see that the research supported how she has felt all of her life: Being single is wonderful.

“I like to say if you like your single life, live it joyfully and apologetically,” DePaulo advised. That’s advice we all can take to the bank, married or not!

The Secret to Longevity Could Be In Your Relationship Status

Emma Morano is 117 years old (yep, one hundred and seventeen!), and right now she’s the oldest living person on Earth. The Italian woman, born in 1899, just celebrated her birthday on November 27th and dished all about what she believes it takes to become a supercentenarian.

The answer might surprise you. No, it’s not kale, but rather “being single,” says Morano as reported by The Independent. Morano has lived alone since 1938 when she left a violent husband shortly after the death of her infant son.

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Turns out science shows that being single actually does offer a bunch of health benefits which, when you add them up, may lead to a longer life. For one, newlywed women tend to gain weight right off the bat, according to a 2014 study published in the journal Body Image. And, actually, you might be more likely to gain weight in a happy relationship than you are in one that’s going south (early on in your marriage, at least), according to another study published in the journal Health Psychology. While gaining some “relationship weight” isn’t going to kill you, being overweight increases your risk for a whole slew of medical problems from type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease to certain types of cancer, osteoarthritis, and liver and kidney disease, according to the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. Translation: not good, if you want to live to see three centuries, like Morano.

Second, heartbreak is a very real thing-and we don’t just mean figuratively. Being in a toxic relationship has the potential to literally hurt your heart. Unhappy marriages were linked with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

And, third, you’re more likely to be happy on your own. The “strong, independent woman who doesn’t need a man” thing is actually quite true; a New Zealand study found that single people who prefer to steer clear of conflict and disagreements were just as happy as those in a relationship. Not to mention, being alone makes you pretty resilient-especially if you’re coming from a rocky relationship, like Morano: “Surviving an experience like that and setting out on her own, without remarrying or finding another legal partner for support, indicates that she has enormous strength for sure,” says Sarah Bennett, co-authors of F*CK LOVE: One Shrink’s Sensible Advice for Finding a Lasting Relationship‎ (Touchstone). “It’s possible that, if she didn’t have to find the strength to leave her husband, she wouldn’t have learned how to survive as long as she has, period.”

Plus, marital stress (which, let’s be honest, is hard to avoid) is linked with depression and might even limit your ability to be happy about positive things, according to another study published in Psychophysiology.

“People always fixate on finding someone so they won’t die single and alone, but this woman is the living example of why that motivation is so stupid; it’s better to live a long, happy life as a single person than stick with some jerk, especially a violent one, just so you won’t have to face mortality by yourself,” says Bennett.

Call up your girlfriends, pop a bottle of bubbly, and put on some Beyonce: it’s time for ~all the single ladies~ to celebrate.

But wait, that’s not it: There are even more reasons being single is better for your health and plenty of ways your relationship can mess with it.

So, yeah, Morano was onto something. And if you’re wondering what other advice she has for living a long life? For one, eat plenty of eggs. She’s eaten two raw eggs and one cooked eggs every day since she was 20 years old (as a result of being diagnosed with anemia). That, plus she eats cookies (balance, duh) and steers clear of meat (because someone told her it causes cancer). Other than that? Just keep doing that “Single Ladies” dance. (And for all you girls out there with a ring, don’t write up those divorce papers just yet. Here are some ways your relationship actually does boost your health. It’s all about perspective, people.)

  • By Lauren Mazzo @lauren_mazzo

Single people live longer

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