Monday, July 10, 2006

Religion & Health

I've been involved in numerous debates with atheists who claim that religious people are mentally ill and that religion is bad for your health.

Here's an article pointing to many medical studies that say the exact opposite:

Here is a small excerpt:

Oman, D., and Reed, D. 1998. Religion and mortality among the community-dwelling elderly. American Journal of Public Health 88: 1469-1475.

In a 5-yer prospective cohort study of 1,931 older residents of Marin County, California, persons who attended religious services were 36% less likely to die during the follow up period. When the variables (including age, sex, marital status, number of chronic diseases, lower body disability, balance problems, exercise, smoking status, alcohol use, weight, two measures of social functioning and social support, and depression) were controlled, persons who attended religious services were still 24% less likely to die during the 5-yer follow up. During the 5-year follow up, there were 454 deaths. Subjects were divided into 2 categories: "attenders" (weekly or occasional attenders) and "non-attenders" (never attend).

Idler, E.L., & Kasl, S.V. 1997. Religion among disabled and nondisabled persons II: attendance at religious services as a predictor of the course of disability. Journal of Gerontology 52: S306-S316.

A longitudinal study of 2,812 older adults in New Haven, CT, found that frequent religious attenders in 1982 were significantly less likely than infrequent attenders to be physically disabled 12 years later, a finding that persisted after controlling for health practices, social ties, and indicators of well-being.

Koenig HG, et al. 1997. Attendance at religious services, interleukin-6, and other biological parameters of immune function in older adults. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 27: 233-250.

Findings suggest that persons who attend church frequently have stronger immune systems than less frequent attenders, and may help explain why both better mental and better physical health are characteristic of frequent church attenders. Reported that frequent religious attendance in 1986, 1989, and 1992 predicted lower plasma interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels in a sample of 1,718 older adults followed over six years. IL-6 levels are elevated in patients with AIDS, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and other serious medical conditions, and is an indicator of immune system function.
As it is written:

Pro 3:7 Don't be wise in your own eyes. Fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
It will be health to your body, and nourishment to your bones.

Pro 4:20 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.
Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh