• Norway's news in English
 

Church-goers have lower blood pressure: study

Published: 28 Dec 2011 10:31 GMT+01:00
Updated: 28 Dec 2011 11:43 GMT+01:00

Attending church services benefits the health of both men and women, according to a Nord-Trøndelag health study (HUNT) carried out by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

"We found that the more often HUNT participants went to church, the lower their blood pressure, even when we controlled for a number of other possible explanatory factors," said Torgeir Sørensen, a PhD candidate from the School of Theology and Religious Psychology Centre at Sykehuset Innlandet (Inland Hospital), in a statement.

The study is the first of its kind in Scandinavia, and researchers were surprised to find that their results tallied with similar studies in the United States. 


"About 40 percent of the US population goes to church on a weekly basis, while the corresponding figure in Nord-Trøndelag County is 4 percent. For that reason, we did not expect to find any correlation between going to church and blood pressure in Nord-Trøndelag. Our findings, however, are almost identical to those previously reported from the United States. We were really surprised," Sørensen said.

Looking at a cross section of the population, the researchers selected church attendance as a variable to represent religious activity, while blood pressure was taken as a variable to indicate overall health. And the study found there to be a clear link between the two.

But Professor Jostein Holmen from NTNU's Faculty of Medicine, and one of the authors of the study, injected a note of caution when interpreting the findings.

“Since this is a cross-sectional study, it is not possible to say whether it was a health condition that affected the participants' religious activity, or whether it was the religious activity that affected the state of participants' health," he said

To establish whether such a causal relationship exists, researchers would have to look at the same people who participated in the study but at different times.

Torgeir Sørensen also noted that the study, published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, had focused only on Christian worshipers.

"The study of the relationship between religion and health has rarely focused on other religions, such as Judaism and Islam. It is therefore difficult to say anything about whether or not this same association can be found in these communities," he said.

The inhabitants of Nord-Trøndelag County have taken part in three surveys since the health study's inception in 1984. In all, the vast HUNT databases contain information on 120,000 individuals, with early studies indicating there are health benefits to be derived from humour and participation in cultural activities.

"It would appear that the data we have been recording in the HUNT studies about religious beliefs is actually relevant to your health, and this is interesting in itself," Holmen said. 



"The fact that church-goers have lower blood pressure encourages us to continue to study this issue. We're just in the start-up phase of an exciting research area in Norway," he said.

The Local (news@thelocal.no)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Norway teens charged for hash cake prank
These are not the intoxicating Easter cakes served at a school lunch event in Norway. Cannabis cake photo: Shutterstock

Norway teens charged for hash cake prank

Two Norwegian teenagers have been charged by police after they brought Easter cakes to school loaded with so much marijuana that two teachers were admitted to hospital. READ  

Åkesson interview seen as 'mobbing': report
Photo: TT

Åkesson interview seen as 'mobbing': report

A recent interview with Sweden Democrat head Jimmie Åkesson on the Norwegian-Swedish TV talk show Skavlan has resulted in a storm of complaints in Norway. Many viewers considered it an attack interview. READ  

Doctors in Norway must tell airline if a pilot is ill
A Germanwings flight leaving Dusseldorf. Photo: Gerard van der Schaaf

Doctors in Norway must tell airline if a pilot is ill

If Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz had told a doctor in Norway he was too ill to fly, the doctor would have been required to inform his employer, a medical expert with Norway’s Civil Aviation Authority has claimed. READ  

Norway Pegida head sued for 'paedo' blog
Ronny Alte. Photo: Ronny Alte's blog

Norway Pegida head sued for 'paedo' blog

One of the leaders of the anti-Islamic Pegida movement in Norway has been ordered to pay heavy damages after a prominent scientist was called “a radical left paedo professor” on his blog. READ  

Norway and UK to build longest subsea cable
The signing of the deal at the British embassy in Oslo. Photo: British embassy

Norway and UK to build longest subsea cable

Norway and the UK have agreed to build the world’s longest undersea cable, capable of bringing enough low-carbon Norwegian hydropower to the UK to supply 750,000 British households. READ  

Bomb squad called to Oslo synagogue
Oslo's synagogue. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Bomb squad called to Oslo synagogue

Norway police evacuated the area around Oslo's synagogue on Thursday night after a man was reported leaving a "suspicious object". By 10pm, bomb specialists had judged the object harmless. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Norwegian: two people in cockpit at all times
A library image of a Norwegian plane. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT / NTB scanpix

Norwegian: two people in cockpit at all times

Low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle has said it will require two people to be in the cockpit at all times for safety reasons, following suspicions that a co-pilot deliberately crashed a Germanwings flight in France on Tuesday. READ  

'Beautiful mind' wins Norway maths 'Nobel'
John F. Nash Jr. and Louis Nirenberg. Photo: NYU Photo Bureau:Hollenshead (Louis Nirenberg) and Peter Badge/NYU Photo Bureau:Hollenshead

'Beautiful mind' wins Norway maths 'Nobel'

Two Americans described as "mathematical giants of the 20th century", including John Nash of "A Beautiful Mind" fame, won Norway's prestigious Abel Prize on Wednesday. READ  

A-ha to tour five years after 'farewell' gig

A-ha to tour five years after 'farewell' gig

Norwegian pop band A-ha, who have sold more than 35 million albums since they first topped the charts in the 1980s, announced a comeback on Wednesday just five years after their last break-up. READ  

Climate change shrinking reindeer pastures: Nina
A strolling reindeer. Photo: Alexandre Buisse/Wikimedia

Climate change shrinking reindeer pastures: Nina

Climate change and overgrazing are causing a growing shortage of the lichen Norway’s reindeers depend on for food, a new report from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (Nina) has warned. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Muslims form 'ring of peace' at synagogue
Business & Money
Schumacher's Norway retreat sold for $3m
National
As it happened: Denmark rocked by terror attack
National
King Harald visits Antarctic namesake
Culture
Norwegians streak the streets of Berlin
Culture
Norway couple find love on word game app
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
International
Norwegian chef wins world's top food prize
Sport
Real Madrid sign Norway prodigy Ødegaard
Politics
Solberg: The fight for freedom isn't won
National
Gaza doc named Norway's person of year
National
Norway extends Russian military freeze
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
National
Kjell Inge Røkke tops Norway's Rich List
International
Surprise! Norway priciest for home comforts
National
Norway terror attacks to become TV drama
International
Malala: Youngest ever Nobel Peace Laureate
National
Norway celebrates 25 years of Sami politics
Business & Money
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
International
Norway best country for older people
National
Muslim centre wanted on site of Munch Museum
International
Norway to send military staff in fight against IS
National
Father warns Breivik 'more extreme than ever'
National
Four-year-old Norway girl sleepwalks 4km
Travel
Cruise line offers Northern Lights promise
National
10-tonne shark found dead off Norway coast
International
'If Snowden wins Nobel Prize, arrest him!': MP
Culture
VIDEO: Swim ace does 'Pool Rubik's Challenge'
National
Norwegian man in 7,000 litre 'Ice Truck Challenge'
Society
Norwegian brewery pulls 'fart-smelling' beer
Sport
Ødegaard: Norway's youngest player ever
National
Miracle cat survives 20 gunshots in Norway
National
Second death within hours at Chess Olympics
National
Norway and Sweden mark 200 years of peace
Culture
Interview: Helene Meldahl, selfie artist
Society
Now serving ... Norway's smallest bar
Travel
Floating Northern Lights hotel planned in Norway
National
Circus camel escapes again
National
Swiss bus driver charged with careless driving in fatal Norway crash
Society
Brit's charity tractor trek heads for Norway
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,313
jobs available