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Harvard Study: Women Who Go To Church Live Longer, Healthier Lives

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – Going to church regularly may have benefits that are more than just spiritual, according to new research.

A study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health concluded that women who attend religious services at least once a week have a lower risk of dying than women who never go to church.

The churchgoing women surveyed also had a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer.

"Our results suggest that there may be something important about religious service attendance beyond solitary spirituality," said Tyler VanderWeele, a professor of epidemiology and senior author of the study. "Part of the benefit seems to be that attending religious services increases social support, discourages smoking, decreases depression, and helps people develop a more optimistic or hopeful outlook on life."

Women who went to church more than once a week had a 33 percent lower risk of dying than women who never went to church, the study found. Weekly churchgoers had a 26 percent lower risk, while less-frequent attendees had a 13 percent lower risk.

The study looked at the lifestyles of nearly 75,000 women. The authors note that it consisted mostly of white, Christian nurses.

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