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Religious professionals live longer, healthiercomment (0)

August 8, 2002


LONDON — There’s a lot to be said for the life of a Benedictine monk or a Baptist minister, not the least of which is the fact that said life on average is considerably longer than for their flocks and, for that matter, the rest of us.

At least that’s the conclusion drawn from three decades of research published in the current edition of the Journal of Religion and Health. And it appears also to hold true for Lutheran ministers, Roman Catholic nuns, Episcopal priests and Presbyterian ministers. The longevity factor that they all have in common, according to the study is the “contemplative lifestyle” of the religious professions.

The researchers examined mortality rate data for religious professionals in America and Europe and compared them with those of the same age, sex and race in the general population. “In almost all the data studied,” the study reported, “the [standardized mortality rate] was below 90 percent, which means that 10 percent fewer clergy died than did ordinary people.” But many of the rest also showed unusual longevity, with ministers, priests, vicars and nuns in general far less prone than most to earthly ailments such as heart disease and cancer.

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