CancerHeart DiseaseReligion/ Spirituality

Do religion and spirituality protect against heart disease?

It might not be sufficient on its own to prevent heart disease, but Dr. Desiree Lie, writing on Medscape, discusses the benefits.

A series of studies supports the benefits of religious behavior or spirituality.

  • In the 1990s, mortality was found to be lower among frequent churchgoers than among nonattendees.
  • A 2002 study reported that compared to infrequent attendance at church, frequent attendees had significantly lower rates of death from:
    • Circulatory diseases
    • Gastrointestinal diseases
    • Respiratory conditions
  • In older adults, religious well-being correlated with well-being and healthier behaviors.
  • Among patients with advanced cancer, survival was observed to be higher among those with higher religiosity or spirituality.

The bottom line?

The author discusses possible reasons for these findings, and cautions that religious participation alone is not a substitute for quality healthcare.

However, there is evidence that religious participation has a positive effect on health attitudes and behaviors, and helps protect against substance and alcohol abuse. Believers also tend to delay early initiation of sexual behavior and smoking.

4/27/10 22:16 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.