Main, Religious, Studies, z438
Leave a Comment

US Surgeon General warns that people’s health may be undermined by not attending church

Worship Service at Praise Chapel, Orange County, California
Credit: Edward Cisneros/

In a surprising advisory, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned about the epidemic of loneliness hitting the US and then attributed this in part to a decline in church attendance, the Washington Stand reports.

It was the first health advisory the US government has ever issued on what it described as the ‘epidemic of loneliness’ in the US.

In a video released along with the advisory, Murthy spoke of the many health issues associated with loneliness,

“Research shows that loneliness and isolation are associated with a greater risk of heart disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and premature death,” Murthy said.

He went on to suggest that experiencing loneliness was the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

In the advisory, Murthy pointed to declining church attendance as one of the contributing factors to this epidemic.

“Religious or faith-based groups can be a source for regular social contact, serve as a community of support, provide meaning and purpose, create a sense of belonging around shared values and beliefs, and are associated with reduced risk-taking behaviors,” Murthy wrote.

“As a consequence of this decline in participation, individuals’ health may be undermined in different ways.”

“In 2020, only 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque,” Murthy continued. “This is down from 70% in 1999 and represents a dip below 50% for the first time in the history of the survey question.”

Over the years, several studies have pointed to the health benefits associated with people regularly attending church.

This included a study of 75,534 middle-aged nurses published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2016 which concluded that church attendance may actually contribute to a longer life.

During the study period between 1992 and 2012, 13,537 of the nurses died due to various causes including cancer and heart disease.

After factoring out unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking, which contribute to higher rates of cancer and heart disease, the researchers found that if a nurse attended church at least once a week, they were 33% less likely to die than their counterparts who didn’t.

Even irregular church attendance had a health benefit reducing a nurse’s chances of dying by 26% compared to those who didn’t attend.

It seems that church attendance actually reduced a nurse’s chance of dying from cancer and heart disease. The study also found that those who attended church were less likely to experience depression, less likely to smoke, and were also more optimistic.

READ: Americans’ ‘Health May be Undermined’ by Not Going to Church: Surgeon General AND What if there is something in our everyday lives that can transform our whole health and well-being? AND Going to church could help you live longer, study says: CNN AND Association of Religious Service Attendance With Mortality Among Women: JAMA Internal Medicine

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.