PURPOSE - Spouses usually are genetically unrelated and share a common living environment. Thus, concordance of diseases in spouses reflects mainly environmental etiologic contributors. The purpose of this study is to investigate spousal associations for selected lifestyle characteristics and common medical conditions.
METHODS - Baseline information from 66,130 married couples participating in the Shanghai Women's Health Study was used in this analysis. Husband-wife associations were evaluated by means of logistic regression, using women's lifestyle and medical conditions as dependent variables. Adjustments were made for women's age, education, occupation, and family income in all models.
RESULTS - Women were more than twice as likely to be current or former smokers; be regular consumers of alcohol, tea, and ginseng; and exercise regularly if their husbands had the same habit. A statistically significant husband-wife disease association was found for tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis, asthma, chronic gastritis, chronic hepatitis, ulcerative colitis, cholelithiasis, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
CONCLUSIONS - Spouses share common lifestyle habits and health risks. This study supports the hypothesis that the shared marital environment may contribute to similarities in lifestyle and morbidity in spouses and provides a basis for health promotion and prevention strategies that target the spouses of patients.