“Study Shows Healthy Habits Cut LDS Heart, Cancer Deaths,” Ensign, Feb. 1990, 80
A study of ten thousand Latter-day Saints in California shows active Church members have some of the lowest death rates for cancer and heart disease ever reported.
The research, conducted by the University of California-Los Angeles School of Public Health, followed the group of active high priests and their wives over an eight-year period.
The number of deaths among men and women in the study was far less than the number of cancer deaths found in the U.S. population as a whole. Results of the study are reported in the December 6 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The UCLA study was designed to involve people who practice three general health habits: never smoking cigarettes, maintaining regular physical activity, and getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Many other studies have shown that these habits are related to low mortality rates.
The study found that middle-aged high priests adhering to all three of these health habits had only 34 percent the rate of cancer mortality, 14 percent the rate of cardiovascular disease mortality, and 22 percent the rate of overall mortality, compared with that of middle-aged U.S. white males.
The LDS wives who participated in the study and who lived by all three of these health practices had only 55 percent the rate of cancer mortality, 34 percent the rate of cardiovascular disease mortality, and 47 percent the rate of overall mortality, as compared with that of middle-aged white U.S. females.
For the LDS high priests in this study, the rates for cardiovascular disease mortality and overall mortality are the lowest ever reported. On the average, young high priests who adhere to the three life-style habits live eleven years longer than the average U.S. male; young wives adhering to these practices average six years longer than the average U.S. female.
“This demonstrates that a major reduction in cancer is possible through healthy life-style practices,” said Dr. James Enstrom of the School of Public Health, principal investigator for the study. “Mormon high priests are currently achieving the 50 percent reduction in cancer that has been set as a goal by the National Cancer Institute for the year 2000.
Dr. Enstrom said previous studies show that Latter-day Saints’ low cancer death rate is only partially explained by their abstinence from smoking.