Having a row with your spouse over the in-laws or money can literally make you sick to your stomach, scientists have discovered.
The impact of stress from heated discussions can cause stomach contents to leak from the gut into the blood stream. This can lead to inflammation - raising the risk of significant illnesses.
Researchers recruited 43 healthy married couples, asked them about their relationships and then encouraged them to discuss and try to resolve an issue likely to provoke strong disagreement. The emotive subjects discussed included finances and in-laws.
Their blood was tested for a marker chemical known as LBP which indicates the presence of bacteria. Couples who had the nastiest rows measured by aggressive language and gestures, harsh criticism of the partner and “dramatic eye-rolls” had the highest levels of LBP.
Dr Janice Kielcolt-Glaser, a psychiatry professor at Ohio State University, who led the research said: “We think this everyday marital distress - at least for some people - is causing changes in the gut that lead to inflammation and, potentially, illness. Hostility is a hallmark of bad marriages, the kind that lead to adverse physiological changes.”
Participants ranged in age from 24 to 61 and had been married at least three years. Researchers compared blood taken before the row with that taken afterwards.