Women who attend religious services more than once per week are more likely to live longer and may lower the risk of death from heart disease and cancer, a study has found.
Middle-aged and older professional 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, the findings claimed.
Tyler J VanderWeele and his colleagues from Harvard TH Chan School of Public in Boston examined attendance at religious services and subsequent death in women. The study — published online by JAMA Internal Medicine — analysed attendance at religious services in questionnaires from 1992 to 2012 and data analysis was conducted from the 1996 questionnaire to 2012 for a 16-year follow-up.
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.
Women who frequently attended religious services tended to have fewer depressive symptoms and were more likely to be married. The findings showed that 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. Women who attended services weekly had a 26 per cent lower risk and those who attended services less than weekly had a 13 per cent lower risk, according to the results.
In this well-designed secondary data analysis, attendance at religious services is clearly associated with lower risk of mortality.
The study only included middle-aged and older professional women.
“We do not know whether the results would hold for men or for younger persons,” added Dan German Blazer from Duke University Medical Centre in Durham.