Researchers have found a surprising correlation between longevity and religious faith.
Church-goers appear to live up to four years longer than atheists, at least according to an analysis of 1,000 obituaries published across the United States.
The Ohio State psychology researchers behind the study insist there is merit to the connection: people with religious affiliations often volunteer and engage in social activities throughout their lives – something routinely tied to longer lifespan.
But they found that this socializing only appeared to boost longevity by a year at most – suggesting other elements of religious life, such as low alcohol intake, could contribute.
‘There’s still a lot of the benefit of religious affiliation that this can’t explain,’ study lead author Laura Wallace, a doctoral student in psychology at The Ohio State University.
Dr Baldwin Way, associate professor of psychology at Ohio State who co-authored the study, concurred.
He said that, while the findings may sound like tosh to atheists, there was a correlation they couldn’t ignore.
‘The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives,’ he said.
Dr Way surmises that this correlation might depend on how religious one’s community is.
Indeed, the first installment of this study involved 505 obituaries published in the Des Moines Register in Iowa in January and February 2012.
There, the lifespan gap was even greater: religious people lived 9.45 years longer than their atheist peers – but that shrunk to 6.48 years when they took gender and marital status into account .
SOURCE: Mia de Graaf