Research has now confirmed what many people have known for centuries ... faith in a Supreme Being can cause powerful health benefits. Many studies verify that people who have faith are in fact healthier, less likely to contract lethal diseases, heal faster and are able to fight off addictions.
How can this be? Well, a few possibilities are:
1. We are made in such a way that our bodies respond positively to faith ... for whatever reasons. It appears that people who practice their faith regularly are blessed with lower blood pressure, lower heart rates, better oxygen consumption, slower brain waves and stronger immunity systems.
2. Faith decreases the number one factor in health problems ... stress. When people have hope they are capable of looking beyond current problems to know that things will turn out for the better.
3. People who have faith are not prone to smoke, drink alcohol and make other life style choices that tend to lead to those diseases that plague modern man ... i.e. diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etcetera.
4. Social ties such as those encountered at places of worship provide people with a sense that they are not alone ... that they have others they can count on and share their beliefs.
WHAT SCIENTIFIC STUDIES SUPPORT THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF FAITH?
According to the publishers of Prevention magazine, the following studies support the contention that people of faith are healthier than those who are not ...
1. CALIFORNIA PUBLIC HEALTH FOUNDATION (Berkeley): 5000 people were studied for 28 years and it was determined that women who went to a place of worship at least once a week were 33% less likely to die prematurely.
2. DARTMOUTH-HITCHCOCK MEDICAL CENTER (Lebanon, NH): 232 people were studied and it was found that people who had surgery for heart problems were three times more likely to live through the operation than those who did not receive "strength and comfort" from their religion.
3. UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA (Greensboro): 112 women were studied and it was found that a primary factor affecting blood pressure was "being religious" ... even more than bad (or good) health habits.
4. JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY (Baltimore): 92,000 residents of the state of Maryland were studied and found to be less likely to die from emphysema, heart disease, cirrhosis or suicide than people who did not attend church at least once a week.
5. SAN FRANSICO GENERAL HOSPITAL: 393 cardiac care patients were studied and it was discovered that sufferers were not as likely to require antibiotics (five time less likely) or artificial ventilation treatments (six times less likely) when people prayed for them ... even if they had not knowledge that people were praying for them.
6. HADASSAH UNIVERSITY / BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY (Israel): A study of Israeli communal settlements that spanned 16 years determined that Jewish people who practice their faith were 50% less likely to die (from all causes) than those who did not.
WHAT ABOUT NON-RELIGIOUS PEOPLE?
People who are not religious are not condemned to a life of disease and misery ... there are many avenues available that can achieve the same results - for instance meditation, a positive attitude, exercise, doing healthy things and having a mate/friend(s) to provide social ties.
"Going through the motions" is not advised. In fact, people who go to church simply to make business contacts or "meet the right people" often find themselves in poor mental health. Faith is not something that you can just attain at a moment's notice ... it is not to be equated with good health practices like exercise or meditation. In other words, a desire for religion must "come from the heart".
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