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Study suggests women who attend religious services frequently have a lower risk of death from heart disease and cancer.

Can spirituality increase your lifespan? This is a contentious and often common question which arouses intense debates when broached.  Most spiritual Americans acknowledge that going to church helps them to strengthen their spirituality. Apart from the church giving people spiritual nourishment and guidance, an increasing body of research has linked spirituality to longer lives.

A lot of theories have been fronted to explain the link between spirituality and a longer lifespan. For instance, studies suggest that religion advocates for healthy lifestyles. Various religions prohibit unhealthy lifestyles such as sexual immorality and illicit drug use, thereby significantly reducing the risk of religious people dying at a younger age.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), deaths related to alcohol in the United States averaged 88,000 per year between 2006 and 2010. Thus, alcohol shortened American lives by an average of 30 years. This collaborates with the findings of a study conducted by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and subsequently published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study spread over a 16-year period analyzed nearly 74,000 women participants aged between 30 to 55 years. The participants through the use of questionnaires reported how often they attended church. Among the 74,000 women participants, majority were Catholics and Protestants. Also, of the 74,000 participants, 18,000 participants never attended church while 14,000 attended more than once a week. Moreover, 30,400 attended church weekly.

The study findings revealed that those who had at least a weekly church attendance rate experienced a 33 percent lower death risk rate than those who did not attend church services. Further, the study illustrated that women with a weekly attendance rate had a 26 percent lower death risk rate while those who attended church less than once a week had a 13 percent lower death risk rate.

Over the 16-year period, 13,573 participants succumbed with 4,479 dying from cancer, while 2,721 died as a result of cardiovascular ailments. To improve the study’s validity and reliability, the researchers controlled various risk factors that normally have an impact on death rates such as diabetes, smoking, income, education level, hypertension, physical activity and age.

The study furthermore revealed that by attending church services, the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease decreased by 27 percent while that of cancer decreased by 21 percent. Therefore, the concept of religion and spirituality has been shown to increase the lifespan of individuals.

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