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Study shows that spirituality reduces cancer symptoms

Pink lights flooding a bridge in West Palm Beach Florida during Breast Cancer Awareness week. Photo: Foter/

Pink lights flooding a bridge in West Palm Beach Florida during Breast Cancer Awareness Week. Photo: Foter/

A study released by the Tampa-based Moffitt Cancer Center stated that a person’s spirituality or religiousness helps an individual not only deal with cancer but even the cancer treatment itself, that can be very difficult.

The report conducted by Heather Jim looked at the results of several studies that considered (at least in part) the impact of spirituality on cancer patients. In total, they involved 32,000 patients who were experiencing various types of cancers and were at different stages of cancer.

These studies showed that people who rate high on spiritual or religious scores reported “fewer or less severe” cancer symptoms. They also reported similar results with the cancer treatments.

Jim pointed out that people without spirituality can also experience better outcomes, but those with a strong spiritual beliefs fared better overall.

In her article on the study, Globe and Mail author Kathryn Doyle wrote:

“A sense of connection to a being larger than oneself was associated with better physical function and fewer, or less severe, symptoms of cancer or treatment, according to patient reports.”

Jim added that patients who had a “higher meaning, purpose and spiritual connection in life” stated they had better physical health than those who had a more fatalistic view on life or were even mad at God.

She said some of the reasons for this may be due to a more healthy lifestyle often associated with spirituality and as well a more positive outlook on life – including forgiveness and love. Religious people also have a strong community life that can give valuable support. is an online service that allows people to search for Bible verses in dozens of Bible translations. In 2009, they released a report of the most searched for Bible verses between March and April 2009.

Though John 3:16 scored number one on the top 100 list, the next three verses dealt with trusting God in difficult times, such as Philippians 4:13 that says we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

By my estimation at least 40% of the top ten verses involved a promise that God will help people struggling with difficult trials such as cancer. People are searching for these verses because they believe God will help them.

This study shows that this confidence in God makes a difference when dealing with cancer.

Biblegateway’s top 10 searches (NIV):

  1. John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  2. Jer 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
  3. Rom 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
  4. Phil 4:13: I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
  5. Gen 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
  6. Prov 3:5: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
  7. Prov 3:6: in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
  8. Rom 12:2: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
  9. Phil 4:6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
  10. Matt 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.


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