Some studies show there is a correlation between an individual's spirituality and the effect it can have on some of their medical treatment. For cancer patients and their families, this is invaluable information, as they seek to understand and use all available resources in their battle against this disease.
With this in mind, ourjourneyofhope.com has pulled together articles, studies, research and other resources which we hope will be of value in that fight. We believe it's empowering and hope-building to know that:
In 1998, the Archives of Family Medicine, Vol. 7, Mar/Apr., 118-124 published the following scientific facts:
- Over the past 10 years, 84 percent of studies published by leading psychiatric journals have produced findings indicating the clinical benefits of faith/spirituality, religious involvement to health and well-being.
- 73 percent of people say their approach to life is grounded in their religious faith.
- 75 percent of patients want their spiritual issues addressed as part of their medical care.
In his book, The Healing Connection: The Story of a Physician's Search for the Link Between Faith and Healing, Dr. Harold G. Koenig, one of this country's leading medical researchers, and the founder and director of the Duke University Center for Religion/Spirituality and Health, shares some summary information from the hundreds of studies conducted in recent years on the connection between spirituality and health. Just a few of these findings include:
- People who regularly attend church, pray individually and read the Bible 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.
- 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.
- 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. People who went to church regularly had significantly lower blood levels of interleukin-6 (IL-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 non-religious counterparts. Religious faith appears to protect the elderly from the two major afflictions of later life, cardiovascular disease and cancer. In this regard, religion may be as significant a protective factor as not smoking in terms of survival and longevity.
Dr. Harold G. Koenig is not affiliated with CTCA.
If you're a cancer patient who is already spiritually minded, we hope these resources will confirm to you the importance of maintaining a healthy spiritual life and adding to your faith. If you're a cancer patient who has never thought about the value of spirituality and how important it is to your overall health, we hope these resources will be an eye-opener and give you much to think about.