Study: Hostile Spousal Conflicts Can Cause More Than Just Stress

Researchers link animosity in couples to inflammation, bacteria in bloodstream

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Fighting with your spouse can add stress to your life. In a new study, researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center recruited healthy couples and asked them to resolve an issue they disagree about in order to determine how marital conflict impacts overall health.

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Any married couple will tell you that stress is part of daily life. Marital conflicts such as disagreements about finances, kids and in-laws can all lead to increased stress among couples. Now, a new study led by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that arguments with your spouse have the potential to harm your health, starting in your gut.

It’s called leaky gut, a little-understood condition that weakens the lining of the intestines. Researchers found that in couples who had particularly hostile disagreements, there were higher levels of bacteria in the blood – bacteria that made its way into the bloodstream from the intestine. “This study takes a look at chronic, everyday, real-life stress and leaky gut,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, one of the lead researchers on the study. “We know that inflammation leads to leaky gut and causes a number of age-related diseases. Our research shows that marital stress is furthering that inflammation.”

Leaky gut has been associated with anxiety and depression, as well as metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes. Chronic stress can exacerbate these conditions, and researchers know that gut permeability plays a key role in understanding how everything works together. “Ultimately, anything in our gut that’s going to influence our health is going to be in the blood first, then make its way to the individual organs,” said Michael Bailey PhD, co-author on the study. “We’re really interested in what’s going to wind up in the blood and how it impacts our health.”

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Michael Bailey, PhD, tested the blood of couples before and after fights. In a new study by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, researchers found that fights between spouses led to higher levels of bacteria in the blood caused by a leaky gut, a little-understood condition that weakens the lining of the intestines.

Fighting with your spouse can add stress to your life. In a new study, researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center recruited healthy couples and asked them to resolve an issue they disagree about in order to determine how marital conflict impacts overall health.

Katelyn Capparuccini and her husband don’t always see eye to eye, and that can cause stress within their family. A new study from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that couples who have hostile arguments are prone to leaky gut, a condition where bacteria leaks into the bloodstream.

Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, and Michael Bailey, PhD, conducted a new study looking at a real-life stressor and its impact on leaky gut. Leaky gut is a condition that weakens the lining of the intestines, allowing harmful bacteria into the bloodstream.

Researchers know that marital stress can contribute to a wide range of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and depression. A new study from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center links inflammation associated with leaky gut with these significant health issues.