April 15, 2005


Is religion good for health? Studies say amen (JIM RITTER, April 14, 2005, Chicago Sun-Times)

Two studies released Wednesday are adding to the growing body of research that religion is good for your health.

A study of 68 Alzheimer's disease patients found that going to church and other religious activities slowed cognitive declines, Canadian researchers reported at a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.

And University of Chicago researchers reported that African Americans who strongly believe in God were less likely to be depressed than nonbelievers. [...]

Religion helps provide a sense of hope, peace and well-being, which in turn can reduce health-damaging stress hormones, said Dr. Harold G. Koenig of Duke University's Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health.

"It's a very powerful coping behavior," he said.

Previous research has shown that religion provides a wide range of health benefits. Here, for example, is a sampling of what Duke researchers have found:

*Among elderly adults who were followed for six years, those who attended religious services at least once a week were less likely to die than those who attended infrequently or not at all. "This effect on survival was equivalent to that of not smoking cigarettes vs. smoking," the researchers reported.

*Engaging in most religious activities was linked to having lower blood pressure. There were two exceptions: People who watched or listened to religious TV and radio programs tended to have higher blood pressure.

*Among elderly patients, those who attended church at least once a week spent less time in the hospital and had healthier immune systems.

*Among adults of all ages, people who prayed or studied the Bible at least several times a week were less likely than others to suffer alcoholism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 15, 2005 4:31 PM
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