A new study finds a statistically significant correlation between attendance at religious services and the life expectancy of women.
The 16-year study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine and reported by Reuters, analyzed data compiled from 1996 to 2012 in the Nurses’ Health Study from nearly 75,000 women, most of whom were Catholic or Protestant.
The survey found that women who attended religious services regularly were 33 percent less likely to have died during the course of the survey than women who did not attend at all.
Frequency also appeared to affect the potency of the life-expectancy boost. While those attending church services less than once per week were 23 percent less likely to have died during the study period, once-per-week attendees were 26 percent less likely to have died.
Researches attributed the mortality disparity to cardiovascular disease, from which church-going women were 27 percent less likely to have died, and cancer, from which church-going women were 21 percent less likely to have died.
“Although attendance at religious services was associated with lower cardiovascular mortality and cancer mortality, attendance was not significantly associated with incidence of breast cancer or cardiovascular disease,” researchers Shanshan Li, Meir J. Stampfer, David R. Williams and Tyler J. VanderWeele wrote.
Of the women surveyed, 14,000 attended religious services more than once per week, 30,400 once per week, 12,000 less than once per week and 18,000 never attended.