Marital happiness is the key to fighting off flu, a new study published today reveals.

The study of older people by the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences also discovered that bereavement has a negative effect on the body’s immune response to the annual flu jab.

Dr Anna Phillips, the lead investigator on the study, said: “We know that those aged over 65 are more at risk of the impact of flu, but this research shows that within that group, those that have been recently bereaved, or those that are single, divorced or widowed are more at risk that those who are in a happy marriage.

“It is especially important for these at-risk groups to get their flu jabs.”

The study looked at whether stressful life events and other related factors had an effect on the immune system’s response to the flu jab, which gives a good indication of how well the body would fight off a real attack of flu.

The research team looked at the levels of antibodies in the blood, which are produced by the body to combat disease.

The team found that those who reported having happy marriages had a much higher level of antibodies in the blood than those reporting lower marital satisfaction.

Those who had suffered a bereavement in the year prior to vaccination had a poorer response than those who had not suffered such a loss.

More here.