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OT Fwd = Belief in afterlife can make you live longer

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  • Frits Westra
    Forwarded by: fwestra@hetnet.nl URL: http://www.nationalpost.com/news.asp Original Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 17:09:32 +0200==========================
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 2000
      Forwarded by: fwestra@...
      URL: http://www.nationalpost.com/news.asp
      Original Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 17:09:32 +0200

      ========================== Forwarded message begins ======================

      Thursday, April 27, 2000

      Belief in afterlife can make you live longer, study says
      Lack of faith blamed for 43,000 deaths

      Richard Foot
      National Post

      TORONTO - Going to church may not guarantee you a heavenly afterlife,
      but it will help you live longer in the here and now, according to
      research by a medical professor at the University of Toronto.

      Dr. Chandrakant Shah, a physician and professor of public health
      sciences, says a fifth of all Canadian deaths -- about 43,000 deaths
      each year -- can be blamed on poor spiritual beliefs. Dr. Shah says
      that if Canadians attended religious services more frequently, said
      their prayers more often, or placed more faith in the powers of a
      celestial creator, they would live longer and healthier lives.

      "There are beneficial results from being a spiritual person," he says
      in research released yesterday. "It reduces stress, promotes healthy
      lifestyles and increases social connectedness: all improve the health
      and well-being of individuals and are associated with lower

      The study is the first in Canada to take a widely held academic
      assumption that spiritual people have healthier lives and apply that
      theory to Canadian public health and mortality statistics.

      Dr. Shah describes spirituality not only as a belief in God or
      participation in traditional religion, but as "the beliefs, values and
      behaviours a person holds concerning his place in the universe, and
      which reflects one's connections with a higher power and one's social
      and physical environment."

      He says spirituality takes two forms. The inner form involves faith in
      a "higher power" and the sense of security or "inner peace" that comes
      from that faith. The outer form involves the connection someone feels
      with their fellow humans.

      Feeling more connected makes someone more "caring, sharing,
      compassionate and respectful" as an individual, says Dr. Shah.

      If spirituality brings more "inner peace," it also lessens the need
      for "pleasure-seeking behaviours" -- drinking, smoking, gluttony,
      promiscuous sex or material gain. The study says that both forms of
      spiritual faith bring with them better physical health.

      "Many individuals consider that having material things such as a
      Mercedes or Lexus will make them happy," writes Dr. Shah, who
      describes himself as a spiritual, but non-religious person. "To
      achieve material gains, people are constantly on the go and face all
      types of stress ... However, people with inner peace are contented
      people and are not in a rat race."

      Drawing data from Canada's National Population Health Surveys in the
      mid-1990s, Dr. Shah used three measurements to gauge the spirituality
      of Canadians -- weekly attendance at religious activities, levels of
      "social connectedness" [or personal relationships] and levels of
      personal stress.

      With information from those studies -- including the fact that in 1997
      only 59% of Canadians took part in regular religious worship -- Dr.
      Shah used epidemiological formulae to calculate that 43,000 deaths
      each year are "potentially attributable" to low levels of

      If as many as 80% of Canadians participated in weekly worship, the
      research predicts the number of deaths attributable to low levels of
      spirituality would fall to 23,000.

      Copyright � Southam Inc. All rights reserved.

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