- Study looked at nearly 75,000 church-goers over a 20-year-period
- Those who attend more than once a week were 33% less likely to die early
- Sense of optimism and community were thought to be factors behind it
By Kate Pickles For Mailonline
Going to church is not only good for the soul, it can also stop you dying young, a study claims.
A weekly worship 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.
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.
‘Our results suggest that there may be something important about religious service attendance beyond solitary spirituality,’ Professor VanderWeele 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.’
Women who attended religious services more than once per week had a 33 per cent lower risk of death compared with women who never attended religious services.
Those who attended services weekly had a 26 percent lower risk and those who attended services less than weekly had a 13 percent lower risk, according to the results.
The study indicates women who attended religious services more than once a week had a 27 per cent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 21 per cent lower risk of death from cancer compared with women who never attended.Attending religious services increases social support, discourages smoking, decreases depression, and helps people develop a more optimistic or hopeful outlook on life, scientists believe
Attending religious services increases social support, discourages smoking, decreases depression, and helps people develop a more optimistic or hopeful outlook on life, scientists believe
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 less likely to be current mothers and more 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.
However, the authors noted limits in generalising the results because the study mainly consisted of white Christians.
The participants were also nurses with similar socio-economic status and who were health consci