A new study finds that Christians who follow a nontheistic lifestyle, like staying home and attending worship services, have a lower likelihood of developing dementia than those who follow religion-based practices like paying for their medicine.
The study, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, also found that people who follow these nontheist practices have a significantly lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
“These results indicate that, while religion does not cause dementia, it is important to consider its role in preventing the disease,” said lead author Kristine R. Hagen, Ph.
D., a research associate in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Minnesota.
The study found that religious people are less likely to develop dementia than nonreligious people, and that those who believe in God are less at risk of the disease.
For example, among people who said they have no religious affiliation, just 6.4 percent had dementia compared to 15.9 percent among those who had religious beliefs.
People who said that they follow a religious practice, like attending worship, had a significantly reduced risk of dementia, the study found.
People who said religion is important for them to be successful in life had a 17 percent lower risk.
“Religious people who attend worship services are less vulnerable to developing dementia because of their religious adherence and the frequency with which they attend,” Hagen said.
Other findings from the study included: Those who reported that they had no religious belief had a 9 percent lower likelihood that they would develop dementia compared with people who have a strong religious faith.
People with a high frequency of religious worship also had a 23 percent lower chance of developing the disease than those with low frequency.
People without a high religious belief also had less of a risk of contracting dementia compared the nonreligious group.
Those who had more religious friends also had the lowest risk of cognitive impairment.
Nonreligious people were also less likely than religious people to report having a religious faith and were less likely in their late 40s and older to have a higher level of education.
Although people who live a nontraditional lifestyle, such as attending services, attending church, and praying daily, are less susceptible to dementia than people who adhere to religious practices, Hagen cautions that nontheists may not have a good chance of preventing dementia if they are not religious themselves.
More to come…