Study Reveals Lower Rates of Cancer and Early Death in Adventists

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Results were published in a peer-reviewed scientific magazine.

A recent Loma Linda University Health study found lower rates of premature death and cancer in Seventh-day Adventists, members of a Protestant denomination long known for health promotion, compared with individuals in the general United States population. 

Published online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study also found similar results when limiting the analysis to black Adventists and the black general population in the U.S.

Health behaviors promoted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church include not smoking, eating a plant-based diet, regular exercise, and maintaining normal body weight. Previous research suggests that Seventh-day Adventists have lower risks of many cancers, heart disease, and diabetes, and in California, live longer than individuals in the general population. Results vary by cancer type, however, with little published data for black individuals.

To provide additional insights, lead researcher Gary Fraser and his colleagues compared death rates and cancer incidence between a national Seventh-day Adventist population and a representative sample of the U.S. population. Specifically, the researchers analyzed data from the nationally inclusive Adventist Health Study-2 and a U.S. Census population, and they adjusted for differences in education, location of residence, and past smoking habits, so that these factors would not explain any of the results.

The team found significantly lower rates of death from any cause, as well as a lower incidence of all cancers combined in the Adventist population (by 33 percent and 30 percent, respectively), and lower incidence rates specifically for breast, colorectal, rectal, and lung cancer (by 30 percent, 16 percent, 50 percent, and 30 percent, respectively). Death rates and incidence of all cancers combined were also significantly lower among black Adventist individuals compared with black individuals in the U.S. Census population (by 36 percent and 22 percent, respectively).

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