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Church Goers may Live Longer

Posted 5/20/2016

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  Now, this is one interesting report from a large Harvard study. I am confident that there are many back stories and variables, but the bottom line is that white Christian nurses who attended a church service at least once a week had a 33% lower relative risk of dying than a control group of non-church-goers.

  I am not a researcher, but there are a number of immediate qualifiers: these were white nurses= educated women of the US race that typically lives longer in studies due to better health care, insurance, etc. Secondly, there was a higher proportion of non-smokers, and we don't that improves health and longevity. The summary questions are all related to the obvious social and lifestyle differences and just how does all that play out.

  Whatever your reaction, this is definitely intriguing. From NHS Choices:

Women who regularly attend religious services 'live longer'

Churchgoing women were more likely to be non-smokers
"Going to church could save your life," reports the Daily Mail, adding that, "Women who worship once a week are '25 per cent less likely to die early'."
Perhaps surprisingly, while the first part of the headline is overly simplistic, it may not technically be wrong – according to new research from the US, anyway. Whether or not divine providence is responsible for the increase in lifespan is still up for debate.
A large Harvard study showed that predominantly white Christian nurses who attended religious services more than once a week had a 33% lower relative risk of dying over a 16-year period compared with similar women who did not attend religious services.
A sizeable chunk of the link was explained by social support (23%), smoking rates (23%) and, to a lesser extent, optimism differences (9%) between attenders and non-attenders.
The study was very large, precise, and as robust to bias and confounding as you could reasonably expect, so it can be considered reliable. But the lifestyle and social differences between the groups can't go unnoticed.
It's therefore possible that the regular pattern of social interaction associated with being part of a religious community, and the benefits this brings, is mainly responsible for the outcome seen in this research, rather than any specific religious or spiritual aspects.
Atheists who regularly attend humanist gatherings, or just those who go to weekly bingo sessions, may also experience similar benefits.
Read more about the benefits of connecting with others.

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