Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
-Helen Keller

From "The Healing Power of Faith," by Harold Koenig:

Over the years, Duke University's Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health's scientists have led over fifty major research projects on the relationship between faith and health. More than seventy data-based, peer-reviewed papers published in medical and scientific journals have resulted from these projects...

Many of the center's studies have produced groundbreaking findings:

  • People who regularly attend church, pray individually, and read the Bibl have significantly lower diastolic blood pressure than the less religious. Those with the lowest blood pressure both attend church and pray or study the Bible often.
  • People who attend church regularly are hospitalized much less often than people who never or rarely participate in religious services.
  • People with strong religious faith are less likely to suffer depression from stressful life events, and if they do, they are more likely to recover from depression than those who are less religious.
  • The deeper a person's religious faith, the less likely he or she is to be crippled by depression during and after hospitalization for physical illness.
  • Religious people have healthier lifestyles. They tend to avoid alcohol and drug abuse, risky sexual behavior, and other unhealthy habits.
  • Elderly people with a deep, personal ("intrinsic") religious faith have a stronger sense of well-being and life satisfaction than their less religious peers. This may be due in part to the stable marriage and strong families religious people tend to build.
  • People with strong faith who suffer from physical illness have significantly better health outcomes than less religious people.
  • People who attend religious services regularly have stronger immune systems than their less religious counterparts. We found that people who went to church regularly had significantly lower blood levels of interleukin-6, which rises with unrelieved chronic stress. High levels of IL-6 reflect a weakened immune system, which, in turn, increases the risk of infection, autoimmune disease, and certain cancers.
  • Religious people live longer. A growing body of research shows that religious people are both physically healthier into later life and live longer than their nonreligious counterparts.

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