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Believers gain no health advantage

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10:33am, August 28, 2007

Among depressed or socially isolated heart-attack survivors, those who hold spiritual beliefs, regularly attend religious services, or frequently pray or meditate experience new cardiac symptoms and die from various causes at the same rate as their nonreligious counterparts do, researchers find.

Intrigued by prior reports that religious involvement fosters physical health, a team led by psychologist James A. Blumenthal of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., studied 503 patients who were part of a larger investigation of individuals treated for heart attacks. The selected volunteers were depressed or reported having few social contacts. Participants completed a survey of religious attitudes and practices, and their health was assessed every 6 months for an average of 18 months.

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