• Researchers found out that those who attend religious ceremonies have one-third less chance of dying early as compared to those who don’t attend any religious activity, especially for women
  • The researchers used questionnaires from 1992 to 2012 and the data analysis was conducted from the 1996 questionnaire to 2012 for a 16-year follow-up
    The study also utilized the data from the Nurses’ Health Study in the analysis published in the JAMA Internal Medicine

BOSTON – A study which was recently published claims that people who go to church can decrease chances of getting cancer and add years to their life expectancy.

A combined article by Rachel Bishop and Jim Leffman for The Mirror published on May 16 said that researchers found out that those who attend religious ceremonies have one-third less chance of dying early as compared to those who don’t attend any religious activity, especially for women.

Dr. Tyler Vander Weele, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, examined attendance at religious services and subsequent death in women.

“Our results suggest that there may be something important about religious service attendance beyond solitary spirituality,” Weele said.

“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,” Weele added.

The researchers used questionnaires from 1992 to 2012 and the data analysis was conducted from the 1996 questionnaire to 2012 for a 16-year follow-up and also used the data from the Nurses’ Health Study in the analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The result of the study suggested that women who attended any religious services more than once a week had a 21% lower risk of dying from cancer as compared to those women who never attended church. They also had a 33% lower risk of death during the 16 years of follow-up compared with women who never attended religious services.

As for those who attend religious services weekly, they had a 26% lower risk, and those who attended services less than weekly had a 13% lower risk.

Among the total of 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.

A total of 18% among the 74,534 women, or 13,537 women, died on the duration of the studied data, with 2,721 from cardiovascular disease and 4,479 from cancer.

An article by Toronto Sun published on May 16 said that the researchers admitted that they were unable to pinpoint the exact reasons behind their findings and instead relate it with the optimism and a sense of community people get from the church which then helps in combating the effects of stress and depression.

The researchers also admitted that the study’s scope is narrow, as they only included Protestant and Catholic communities; made up mainly of white female nurses with similar socioeconomic status and who were health conscious. Thus, the authors noted limits in generalizing the results.

This observational study also cannot imply causality, and the authors note that a randomized clinical trial of attendance at religious services is neither ethical nor feasible.