Going to church can prevent you dying young, a new study claims.
Dr Tyler VanderWeele, a professor of epidemiology of Harvard’s school of public health, examined attendance at religious services and subsequent death in women using questionnaires between 1992 and 2012.
According to the research, 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. 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. 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.
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.
However, the authors noted limits in generalising the results because the study mainly consisted of white Christians.