A study that looked into 75,000 churchgoers over a 20-year period has found that going to church decreases your risk of dying early by 25% if you’re a female.
The research carried out by experts at the Harvard’s School of Public Health showed that going to church once a week slashes the risk of death for women from all causes including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Using questionnaires between 1992 and 2012, the researchers examined and evaluated attendance at religious services as well as subsequent death in women. Data from the Nurses’ Health Study were used in the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Dr Tyler VanderWeel, an epidemiology professor at Harvard, believes that “optimism and a sense of community” fight the negative effect of stress and depression. As a result, the female churchgoer lives longer.
“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,” he said.
Based on the results of the study, female churchgoers who attended services more than once a week showed a 33% lower risk of death compared with females who never attended services. Meanwhile, those who attended services weekly displayed 26% lower risk. Those who attended services less than weekly had a 13% lower risk.
The study also found that female churchgoers who attended services more than once a week showed 27% lower risk of death caused by cardiovascular disease and 21% lower risk from cancer compared to women who never attended.
Study participants were mostly Catholics or Protestants.
Moreover, the researchers noted that the participants were health conscious and have similar socio-economic status.