• Norway edition
 
Church-goers have lower blood pressure: study
Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/Scanpix

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

People who regularly attend church enjoy lower blood pressure than peers who steer clear of the pews, a Norwegian study has found.

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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Feature
Feature: Norway's Dalai Lama dilemma
The Dalai Lama visiting Oslo in 2005. Photo: Håkon Mosvsvold Larsen/Scanpix

Feature: Norway's Dalai Lama dilemma

A planned visit by the Dalai Lama has Oslo torn between its will to warm up frozen ties with China and warnings from the public not to compromise its stance on human rights, writes AFP's Pierre-Henry Deshayes. READ () »

'Some rapes less bad than others': psychiatrist
Abused girl File photo: Shutterstock

'Some rapes less bad than others': psychiatrist

A psychiatrist in Norway has called for rape to be divided into different categories, with some -- such as when a man penetrates a woman he has gone to bed with while she is sleeping -- classed as less serious. READ () »

Sri Lanka demands arrest of suspected Tamil Tiger
Panchakulasingam Kandiah, leader of Norway's National Council of Eelam Tamils, kneeling in front of a tombstone set up outside Norway's to symbolise the killing of Tamils ​​in Sri Lanka. Photo: Heiko

Sri Lanka demands arrest of suspected Tamil Tiger

Sri Lanka's government has sent out an alert demanding that Norway's government arrest Perinpanayagam Sivaparan, an Oslo-based Tamil, claiming that he is the new leader of the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). READ () »

Norway Conservative jailed for nude pic theft
Tor Johannes Helleland. Photo: Drammen Municipality

Norway Conservative jailed for nude pic theft

A former Conservative party politician who stole nude pictures from the iCloud accounts of several girls he knew and posted them on the internet has been sentenced to 60 days in prison. READ () »

Oslo mulled scrapping Trafalgar Christmas tree
The Trafalgar Square tree on Christmas morning in 2011. Photo: Kevan Davis/Flickr

Oslo mulled scrapping Trafalgar Christmas tree

Oslo bureaucrats this year proposed ending a nearly 60-year-old tradition of sending a Christmas tree to Trafalgar Square in London before their suggestion was rejected outright by the city's mayor Fabian Stang. READ () »

City bike bidders asked to scrap 1,300 bikes
City bikes in central Oslo. Photo: Clear Channel Norway

City bike bidders asked to scrap 1,300 bikes

Oslo's new city bike tender will require the winning bidder to scrap the city's existing 1,300 bikes and replace the 300 shelters where they're kept, leaving the leading bidders puzzled. READ () »

Kjos fills nine out of ten Dreamliner seats
One of the Asian crews on one of Norwegian Air Shuttles' new Dreamliner Aircraft. Photo: Norwegian

Kjos fills nine out of ten Dreamliner seats

Norwegian Air Shuttle last year filled nine out of ten seats on its new long-haul routes to the US And Thailand, despite the highly publicised delays faced by its new Dreamliner aircraft. READ () »

Norway and China hold secret Oslo talks: NRK
A demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in Oslo in 2010 against the detention of Liu Xiaobo. Photo: Greg Rødland Buick/Amnesty International|Flickr

Norway and China hold secret Oslo talks: NRK

China has begun secret negotiations with Norway over ending the diplomatic freeze triggered by the award of the Nobel Peace Price to a leading Chinese dissident four years ago, NRK has reported. READ () »

Nazis and anti-racists threaten 'Congo village'
A screen grab from footage from the 1914 centennial celebrations of Norway's constitution. Photo: YouTube

Nazis and anti-racists threaten 'Congo village'

With both neo-Nazis and anti-racists apparently threatening to burn down his planned recreation of a 1914 Oslo 'human zoo', the Norwegian-Sudanese artist Mohamed Ali Fadlabi is now more convinced than ever of his idea. READ () »

Icelanders frosty at Christmas tree snub
The ceremonial cutting of a Christmas tree intended for London in 2009. Photo: Oslo City Council

Icelanders frosty at Christmas tree snub

A proposal from Oslo's mayor to stop sending an annual Christmas tree to Reykjavik has sparked a furious reaction from Icelanders, many of whom have interpreted the move as a calculated snub. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
International
Icelanders frosty at Christmas tree snub
Tech
VIDEO: Norway's incredible rolling robot
National
Norway teen has lived in cave for a year
National
Hikers to wear green hats if 'open to romance'
National
Norway PM backs gay church weddings
National
Badger gets stuck in car grille and survives
National
Man at recycling plant finds $16,000 in old safe
Culture
Norway celebs plan own funerals in new show
National
Norway man finds adult toy in cod's stomach
International
McCain to vote down would-be envoy
Education
Oslo to get first Muslim primary school
Culture
VIDEO: Norway fans in second Sherlock skit
Advertisement:
Culture
Clooney to film North Sea divers movie
Society
VIDEO: Norway police's chilled way with drunk wows US
Education
VIDEO: Norway skydiver dodges meteorite
National
Oslo shortlisted for Green Capital 2016
International
Work to start on world's tallest wooden house
Culture
NRK boss: Slow TV 'difficult to joke with'
International
Stoltenberg named as next Nato boss
Society
'Silly walk' sign enrages roads agency
Norwegian tattoos McDonald's bill on arm
Sport
Norwegian man 'forgets' luxury boat for two years
Society
VIDEO: Oslo transformed into miniature city
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 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

317
jobs available