Friday, May 20, 2016

Go to church, live longer

Over a 20-year span, the study surveyed a group of more than 76,000 female nurses, most of whom were Catholic and Protestant. At the end of 20 years, more than 13,000 of them had died.

The women who went to religious services more than once a week were 33 percent less likely to be in that group who died, compared to those who never attended services, the study by Harvard University School of Health found.

Tyler VanderWeele, a researcher who co-wrote the study, said the effect diminished as the study participants decreased church attendance.

Those who attended services once a week saw their odds of dying go down 26 percent. For those who attended less than weekly, the odds of dying decreased 13 percent, VanderWeele said.

"The facts on mortality do seem to be quite substantial," Vanderweele added according to CBS

"So I do think the results are under appreciated at present both within the medical and public health communities, but also within religious communities."

He noted that regular churchgoers have more social support, lower smoking rates and lower rates of depression than those who never attend religious services.

"Religion and spirituality may be an underappreciated resource that physicians could explore with their patients, as appropriate," VanderWeele and his co-workers found.

"We were a bit surprised, initially, by the magnitude of the findings," VanderWeele said, adding that they found a long list of positive effects.

"I don't think it's one single reason that this effect is emerging. I think it's that service attendance affects so many different aspects of life," VanderWeele concluded.

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