From Science Daily:

Research reveals that most individuals with cancer have religious and spiritual beliefs, or derive comfort from religious and spiritual experiences. But what impact does this have on patients’ health? Recent analyses of all published studies on the topic–which included more than 44,000 patients–shed new light on the associations of religion and spirituality with cancer patients’ mental, social, and physical well-being. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the analyses indicate that religion and spirituality have significant associations with patients’ health, but there was wide variability among studies regarding how different dimensions of religion and spirituality relate to different aspects of health.

In the first analysis, investigators focused on physical health. Patients reporting greater overall religiousness and spirituality also reported better physical health, greater ability to perform their usual daily tasks, and fewer physical symptoms of cancer and treatment. “These relationships were particularly strong in patients who experienced greater emotional aspects of religion and spirituality, including a sense of meaning and purpose in life as well as a connection to a source larger than oneself,” said lead author Heather Jim, PhD, of the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. Dr. Jim noted that patients who reported greater cognitive aspects of religion and spirituality, such as the ability to integrate the cancer into their religious or spiritual beliefs, also reported better physical health; however, physical health was not related to behavioral aspects of religion and spiritualty, such as church attendance, prayer, or meditation.

In the second analysis,…

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