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Spiritual Health Hazards

Study links conflicted religious beliefs to early deaths

(HealthDay) -- Contrary to previous research, a new study likely to prompt controversy says strong religious beliefs can sometimes shorten the lives of some hospitalized elderly patients, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corp..

The study of 600 patients, 95 percent of whom were Christians, found up to a 28 percent increased risk of dying earlier among those who believed they were alienated from God or who thought their illness was punishment or the work of the devil. The study was done by Duke University Medical Center and Bowling Green State University.

Another report on it appears in The Japan Times, which also cites comments by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins about the potential dangers of zealous religious beliefs.

The new study appears to contradict earlier research, reported in this other Australian Broadcasting Corp. story.

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