October 1, 2023

By David DeSteno

Is religion a medicine for what ails us? If we’re talking about physical and mental health, the answer has been difficult to come by. Large-scale studies have consistently shown a strong association between being religious and good health. For example, a paper published by Mayo Clinic researchers in 2001 found that people who regularly attend religious services tend to have lower rates of mortality and hospital admissions in any given period, as well as better cardiovascular function. The increase in death rates among people who never attend religious services compared with those who attend several times a week is comparable to that associated with smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

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