Friday, 30 July 2010

The Roseto Effect

Roseto is a small borough in the Lehigh Valley Region of Pennsylvania. The town is named for the village of Roseto Valfortore in Italy. In the mid-nineteen sixties, medical researchers were drawn to Roseto by a bewildering statistic: in defiance of medical logic, Rosetans seemed nearly immune to one of the most common causes of death – heart attacks. Roseto's cardiac mortality traced a unique graph. Nationally, the rate rises with age. In Roseto, it dropped to near zero for men aged 55-64. For men over 65, the local death rate was half the national average.

Did I mention that the men of the village smoked and drank wine freely. They spent their days in backbreaking, hazardous labor, working 200 feet down in nearby slate quarries. At home, the dinner tables each evening were laden with traditional Italian food, modified for local ingredients in ways that would drive a dietitian to despair.

All the data simply ruled out any genetic or other physical sources of the Rosetan's resistance to heart disease. Dr. Stewart Wolf summarized the ultimate findings in his statement "People are nourished by other people." A subsequent study showed that all of the houses contained three generations of the family. Families typically ate together, they socialized, they took strolls and took care of one another. Rosetans created a culture of mutual respect and cooperation that contributed to the health and welfare of a community and its inhabitants.

Okay so what’s your point? I thought this was a marriage blog. Forgive the less than intellectual and scientific leap but I contend that the Roseto Effect can be seen on the micro level by couples who are married. A RAND Center study on aging discovered that married men in their 50s, 60s, and 70s have lower mortality rates than those who are unmarried. You might be quick to ask – does the husband living longer shorten the mortality rate of the wife? I don’t know. Or, does the couple have to be happily married? I don’t know. I do know as one who is playing in life’s fourth quarter (forgive the football analogy) that being in a marriage built on love, understanding, mutual caring and respect is a whole lot better than the alternative.

Or, based on the Roseto findings you could invite your in-laws to move in and your kids to move back home.

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