Health Benefits of Church

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People who attend religious services a couple of times a week may live longer, a new study suggests. Harvard University researchers analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study, a survey of 74,534 healthy, primarily Christian women. At the start of the study in 1992, participants were all asked how often they went to church; the researchers then tracked them for 20 years. By 2012, 13,537 of the women had died. After adjusting for other risk factors, it turned out that the ones who attended services more than once a week were 33 percent less likely to have died of any cause than those who never went at all. Overall, going to church at least once a week was associated with a lifespan increase of about five months. “There is evidence that it provides social support, discourages smoking, decreases depression, and promotes optimism or hope,” study author Tyler VanderWeele tells MedicalDaily.com. Based on previous research, however, the church effect “may not be as strong for men as it is for women.”

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