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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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January 20, 2009

Faith and health

Is religion good for your health?

A study reported in the Annals of Epidemiology found that weekly churchgoers have a lower risk of death than those who never set foot inside a place of worship. Prayer and meditation seem to be associated with improved immune systems and fewer episodes of chronic inflammation. And people who identify themselves as more religious have lower rates of depression.

Another study published in Psychology and Health agrees. The survey of women 50 to 79 found that attending a weekly religious service, regardless of your faith, may lower the risk of death by 20 percent compared to people who don’t attend services.

The study’s lead author, Eliezer Schnall, didn’t say the prescription for good health is to attend religious services regularly. “I’m not saying our study yields such a prescription, but our findings are intriguing and we do at least have some ideas of why there is a benefit, but we have not completely explained it all,” he said.

So is church a healthy place? Is this a new evangelism tool: “Got church? Got health”?

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