Regular religious service attendance reduces risk of death by 20 percent
Over the past two decades, the number of adults consuming sugar-sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, fruit drinks and punches has increased dramatically, according to a study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Researchers examined changes over the past two decades in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption based on nationally representative
Full Post: Sales of soft drinks in U.S. increased dramatically in last twenty years
A study published by researchers at Yeshiva University and its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, strongly suggests that regular attendance at religious services reduces the risk of death by approximately 20 percent.
The findings, published in Psychology and Health, were based on data drawn from participants who spanned numerous religious denominations. The research was conducted by Eliezer Schnall, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of psychology at Yeshiva College of Yeshiva University, and co-authored by Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and population health at Einstein, as an ancillary study of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). The WHI is a national, long-term study aimed at addressing women’s health issues and funded by the National Institutes of Health.
The researchers evaluated the religious practices of 92,395 post-menopausal women participating in the WHI. They examined the prospective association of religious affiliation, religious service attendance, and strength and comfort derived from religion with subsequent cardiovascular events and overall rates of mortality. Although the study showed as much as a 20 percent decrease in the overall risk of mortality for those attending religious services, it did not show any consistent change in rates of morbidity and death specifically related to cardiovascular disease, with no explanation readily evident.
The study adjusted for participation of individuals within communal organizations and group activities that promote a strong social life and enjoyable routines, behaviors known to lead to overall wellness. However, even after controlling for such behavior and other health-related factors, the improvements in morbidity and mortality rates exceeded expectations.
“Interestingly, the protection against mortality provided by religion cannot be entirely explained by expected factors that include enhanced social support of friends or family, lifestyle choices and reduced smoking and alcohol consumption,” said Dr. Schnall, who was lead author of the study. “There is something here that we don’t quite understand. It is always possible that some unknown or unmeasured factors confounded these results,” he added.
During WHI enrollment, study participants, aged 50 to79, were recruited on a voluntary basis from a variety of sources, from all over the nation. The women answered questions about baseline health conditions and religiosity and were followed by WHI researchers for an average of 7.7 years, with potential study outcomes of cardiovascular events and mortality adjudicated by trained physicians.
To evaluate the impact of religiosity on mortality and morbidity, the investigators looked at variables including self-report of religious affiliation, frequency of religious service attendance, and religious strength as well as comfort, in relation to coronary heart disease (CHD) and death. It is important to note that the study did not attempt to measure spirituality; rather, it examined self-report religiosity measures (irrespective of the participant’s religion). Participants answered three key questions at registration, regarding:
1) religious affiliation (yes or no);
2) how often services were attended (never, less than once per week, once per week, or more than once per week);
3) if religion provided strength and comfort (none, a little, a great deal).
Those attending religious services at least once per week showed a 20 percent mortality risk reduction mark compared with those not attending services at all. These findings corroborate prior studies that have shown up to a 25 percent reduction in such risk.
The study investigators concluded that although religious behavior (as defined by the study’s criteria) is associated with a reduction in death rates among the study population, the physical relationships leading to that effect are not yet understood and require further investigation. “The next step is to figure out how the effect of religiosity is translated into biological mechanisms that affect rates of survival,” said Dr. Smoller. “However, we do not infer causation even from a prospective study, as that can only be done through a clinical trial.
She added, “There may be confounding factors that we can’t determine, such as a selection bias, which would lead people who are at reduced risk for an impending event to also be the ones who attend services.”
The investigators are considering doing an analysis of psychological profiles of women in the study to determine if such profiles can help to explain the apparent protective effects of attending religious services.
Psychology and Health is the official journal of the European Health Psychology Society. A link to the full journal article can be found here.
The United States ranked 29th in the world in infant mortality in 2004, compared to 27th in 2000, 23rd in 1990 and 12th in 1960, according to a new report from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. infant mortality rate was 6.78 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004, the latest
Full Post: New U.S. infant mortality data released
There are many people who do not believe in god and do not follow any religion. In fact the trend of people who do not follow religion is growing rapidly. Earlier it was only the youth who turned atheist in their prime time and later on turned out to be devout Christian after marriage and
Full Post: Do You Believe In God
In recent years, women, particularly younger women, experienced larger improvements in hospital mortality after myocardial infarction than men, according to a new study. Over the last decade some studies showed that younger women, but not older ones, are more likely to die in the hospital after MI than age-matched men. A team of researchers led
Full Post: Sex differences narrow in death after heart attack
The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) heralds the recent news of a decline in U.S. cancer deaths and incidence rates, with colorectal cancer among the top three cancers with significant declines. ASGE, representing the specialists in colorectal cancer screening, is excited by the report showing that colorectal cancer deaths among men and women dropped
Full Post: ASGE encouraged by drop in colorectal cancer deaths
A study published next week in the open access journal PLoS Medicine suggests that elderly people with damaged kidneys are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart failure and stroke, and other causes of mortality. The findings indicate that greater efforts should be made to encourage elderly people who have impaired kidney function
Full Post: Impaired kidney function raises risk of heart problems in the elderly