Your Belief In A Higher Power May Be Hazardous To Your Physical Health, Here's Why

First Posted: Oct 11, 2016 04:44 AM EDT

There are so many moments when your faith in God can provide comfort and hope, as per several studies. From losing a job, finding out you have cancer or a child's walk home from school in a dangerous neighborhood. However, according to a new study, relying too much on God may lessen efforts to seek treatment or take measure to prevent sickness such as quitting smoking or following a healthy diet.

Medical Daily reported that a study led by University of Michigan researcher R. David Hayward found that men and women who said they believe in a higher power were more likely to let God decide how to solve their health problems. Researchers analyzed data from a recent survey of about 3,000 Americans on their religious beliefs and health which was conducted by the 2014 Landmark Spirituality and Health Survey conducted by the University of Michigan.

The study revealed that although strong religious belief, which was determined by church attendance, praying often, and believing in miracles, was directly connected with greater life satisfaction, belief in miracles had an especially strong association with poorer physical health. That has largely to do with the fact that people who believed in miracles had a greater chance of assuming that their health was in a higher power's hands rather than their own, the researchers additionally found.

"Religious beliefs emphasizing divine control over health outcomes may have negative consequences for health outcomes, although the same beliefs may contribute to a better sense of life satisfaction," the researchers concluded.The Washington Post reported that more than 4 in 5 Americans say God often performs miracles, while almost half of Americans say they have experienced a supernatural miracle. For many religious people, particularly African Americans and evangelicals, there is a bigger chance of ceding personal control of health issues to God.

In a University of Chicago study of urban cancer patients, 61 percent of African-American participants said God was in control of their cancer, while there was only 29 percent of whites agreed with the statement. "Based on our findings, we believe this may be an important component in the health care decision-making of African-American patients. ... For example, if they solely turn to prayer while delaying seeking medical attention," researchers said in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.

Meanwhile, according to, there are no simple answers on how to find the ideal balance between divine and personal control. However, believing that a caring God is looking out for individuals can produce a lot of positive health outcomes. In the case of health, believing God provides solutions to medical needs can help by "reducing the stress associated with chronic health problems and providing a sense of hope and optimism for the future," researchers in the Michigan study noted.

Also, for those who are terminally ill, believing in a miracle can lessen the feeling of fear and anxiety along with their instead of arguing those who believe in miracles, the researchers suggest that doctors should engage them in a productive dialogue. The doctors can make a difference by pointing out that it is important to work with the higher power to heal their body, or to encourage them to take care of their body as part of their "religious duty". 

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