Going to church is good for the soul, so it makes sense that it can also stop you dying young. According to a study, a going to church can slash your chances of dying early by a quarter if you are female.
Attending just once a week was associated with a lower risk of death for women from all causes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, the study which spanned over 20 years found. Researchers believe optimism and a sense of community can combat the effects of stress and depression, resulting in longer life.
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Dr Tyler VanderWeele, a professor of epidemiology of Harvard’s school of public health, examined attendance at religious services and subsequent death in women. It was assessed using questionnaires from between 1992 and 2012. Researchers used data from the Nurses’ Health Study in the analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Professor VanderWeele said;
‘Our results suggest that there may be something important about religious service attendance beyond solitary spirituality…part of the benefit seems to be that attending religious services increases social support, discourages smoking, decreases depression, and helps people develop a more optimistic or hopeful outlook on life.’
Among 74,534 women at the 1996 study baseline with reported religious service attendance, 14,158 attended more than once a week, 30,401 attended once per week, 12,103 attended less than once per week and 17,872 never attended.
Most of the study participants were Catholic or Protestant. Women who frequently attended religious services tended to have fewer depressive symptoms, were most likely to be married.
Among the 74,534 women, there were 13,537 deaths, including 2,721 from cardiovascular disease and 4,479 from cancer