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Do partnership dissolutions and living alone affect systemic chronic inflammation? A cohort study of Danish adults
  1. Karolina Davidsen1,
  2. Simon Carstensen1,
  3. Margit Kriegbaum2,
  4. Helle Bruunsgaard3,
  5. Rikke Lund1,4,5
  1. 1 Section of Social Medicine, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2 Research Unit for General Practice and Section of General Practice, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  3. 3 Department of Clinical Immunology; Centre of Inflammation and Metabolism; Centre for Physical Activity Research, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
  4. 4 Section of Social Medicine, Department of Public Helath, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  5. 5 Center for Healthy Aging, University of Copenhagen, Kobenhavn, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Professor Rikke Lund, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen Social Medicine Section, Kobenhavn, Denmark; rilu{at}sund.ku.dk

Abstract

Background Partnership breakups and living alone are associated with several adverse health outcomes. The aim of this study, carried out in Denmark, is to investigate whether accumulated numbers of divorces/partnership breakups or years lived alone across 26 years of adult life are associated with levels of inflammation, and if vulnerability with regards to gender or educational level can be identified.

Methods 4835 participants from the Copenhagen Aging and Midlife Biobank (CAMB) aged 48–62 years were included. Data on accumulated numbers of partnership breakups and years living alone were retrieved from a national standardised annual register. Inflammatory markers interleukin 6 (IL-6) and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) were measured in blood samples. Multivariate linear regression analyses were adjusted for age, educational level, early major life events, body mass index, chronic diseases, medicinal intake affecting inflammation, acute inflammation and personality scores.

Results For men, an association was found between an increasing number of partnership breakups or number of years living alone and higher levels of inflammatory markers. No such association was found for women, and no evidence of partnership breakups and educational level having a joint effect was found for either gender.

Conclusion The findings suggest a strong association between years lived alone or accumulated number of partnership breakups and low-grade inflammation for middle-aged men, but not for women. Among those of either sex with a lower level of education, no specific vulnerability to accumulated years lived alone or number of breakups was identified.

  • Marital status
  • life course epidemiology
  • immunosenescence
  • C-reactive protein
  • divorce

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data cannot be made publicly available due to regulations. A SAS code for the project is available upon request from MK.

Data availability statement

Data cannot be made publicly available due to regulations. A SAS code for the project is available on request from MK. Data cannot be made publicly available due to regulations. A SAS code for the project is available upon request from MK.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data cannot be made publicly available due to regulations. A SAS code for the project is available upon request from MK.

Data availability statement

Data cannot be made publicly available due to regulations. A SAS code for the project is available on request from MK. Data cannot be made publicly available due to regulations. A SAS code for the project is available upon request from MK.

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Footnotes

  • Contributors KD and RL generated the idea for the paper, and KD, RL and MK prepared an analytical plan and conducted all data analyses. KD and RL drafted the introduction, methods, results and discussion sections. HB and SC contributed to critical revision of the design and statistical analyses. KD designed figures. All the authors contributed to the interpretation of the results and critical revision of the paper and approved the final version. RL is guarantor of overall content.

  • Funding This work was funded by the Centre for Healthy Ageing at the University of Copenhagen established by a grant from the Nordea Foundation. The research leading to these results was carried out as part of the Social Inequalities in Ageing (SIA) project, funded by NordForsk, Project No. 74 637. The Copenhagen Ageing and Midlife Biobank has been supported by a generous grant from the VELUX FOUNDATIONS (VELUX26145 and 31539).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.