Religious Service Attendance May Affect Mortality Among Women

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Religious Service Attendance May Affect Mortality Among Women
Religious Service Attendance May Affect Mortality Among Women

MONDAY, May 16, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Women who regularly attend religious services may live longer than women who never attend services, according to research published online May 16 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study included information from 74,534 U.S. women in the Nurses' Health Study. The original study began in 1976. The women were between 30 and 55 years old at that time. Information on lifestyle, health, and religious practice was collected between 1992 and 2012. During the 20-year study period, 13,537 women died. The researchers adjusted the data to account for a number of factors, including diet, physical activity routines, drinking and smoking history, weight, depression, social life, and race.

Women who went to a service at least once a week had a 27 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. They also had a 21 percent lower risk of dying from cancer compared to those who didn't attend service at all. Compared with non-attendees, once-weekly service attendance was associated with a 26 percent decreased risk of mortality, while less frequent attendance was linked to a 13 percent decrease in risk. Women who regularly attended religious services had fewer depressive symptoms and were less likely to be smokers. Women who attended services more than once a week were more likely to be married, and tended to live an average of five months longer than women who never went to services.

"The association between religious participation and mortality probably has more to do with religious practice and specifically, communal practice, like attending religious services, than with religious belief," study author Tyler VanderWeele, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, told HealthDay. "Something about the communal religious experience seems to be powerful for health."

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