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Cougars, beware: A younger man may be bad for your longevity

The younger Ashton Kutcher may be bad for Demi Moore's health: A new study has found that a woman?s life expectancy decreases the more years there are between wife and husband.

Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Cougars, bad news. Nabbing a younger man might make for a fun night out, but if it leads to the altar it won't do much for your longevity.

A new study has found that a woman's life expectancy decreases the more years there are between wife and husband, regardless of whether or not the man is older or younger, although the effect is more pronounced if the man is younger.

It's a much different story for men who marry younger, however.

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While men who marry a woman seven to nine years younger see their mortality risk drop by 11 per cent, women who marry a man seven to nine years younger increase their mortality risk by 20 per cent, according to the study of nearly two million Danish couples conducted by researchers at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and published in the journal Demography.

In the case of men enjoying the life expectancy benefits of marrying younger, researchers have typically thought that a younger spouse provides psychological and social benefits, as well as that men who chose younger partners are likely able to do so because they are healthier and thus already predisposed to live longer.

Yet neither of those factors appear to apply to women.

"These theories now have to be reconsidered," Sven Drefahl, the demographer who conducted the study, said in a release.

While it remains a mystery as to why marrying younger men shortens women's lives, Dr. Drehafl did venture a guess: "One of the few possible explanations is that couples with younger husbands violate social norms and thus suffer from social sanctions," he said.

But there is good news, according to the study: Marriage boosts life expectancy for both men and women.

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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