I’m Min Min, a public health research fellow at Monash University Malaysia.
My research interest is the psycho-social determinants of health and genetic epidemiology, especially the utilization of polygenic risk scores in risk stratification. My current project examines the association between religion, spirituality, and mental and physical health among elderly.
5 health benefits of religion/spirituality
- Longer life. The earliest religion/spirituality and health studies looked at religious attendance and mortality. According to a study of 1,931 older adults, those who did not attend faith or spirituality-based services had 1.87 times the risk of death compared to those who were part of a faith-based community.
- Better immune function. A higher religious attendance is associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers which play an important role in the development of cancer.
- Better mental health. Many studies around spirituality and faith also examine mental health and depression. It has been found that people who practice spirituality have a reduced risk of depressive symptoms.
- Lower blood pressure: Many studies on religion and spirituality in relation to health focus on participants who are Christian and white. In one of the few studies on Buddhists, Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns were found to have a 38% lower risk of high blood pressure compared with other Tibetan residents, and the most likely explanation of the reduced risk is the practice of vegetarian diet and higher level of religious practices among the monks and nuns.
- Better health habits: Many faiths view the human body as sacred. A higher level of religiousness/spirituality is associated with lower smoking rates and alcohol intake, lower risk of substance abuse, and a higher intake of fruit and vegetables.