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Surprising Science

Religion Linked to High Blood Pressure

Praying and believing in a god might secure a healthier existence for your soul in the hereafter, but it doesn’t necessarily do much for the body in this life, a new study shows.

What’s the Latest Development?

A study conducted by medical students at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine has found that religiosity appears to have little affect on preventing hypertension, or high blood pressure, and those study participants proclaiming to be the most religious were actually the most likely to have hypertension. “No amount of standing and kneeling at church can compensate for a sprawling ham dinner, or other large meal, after services,” says Cristopher Wanjek. Wanjek does not object to faith-based health projects, but thinks worldly advice about a eating well and exercising right should accompany the spiritual lessons of faith. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Many studies have concluded there are some health benefits to religious participation, which has typically meant attending a weekly service. But was it getting out of the house and engaging with the community that conferred the health benefits or was it the spiritual influence of religion? “The Loyola study focused more on the spiritual, not whether a person merely attends church but whether they ‘carry [their] religion over into all other dealings in life,’ as cited in the study. Those who were most religious in this regard were the least healthy in terms of high blood pressure.”


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