Several recent research papers show that spirituality keeps the hopes up for cancer patients, as they seem to be experiencing a lighter path towards healing, with less pain, less depression, and an overall positive, optimistic stance in front of the deadly disease.
The new studies also point out the fact that that all of this could be directly linked to the fact that followers of most all religions usually rely heavily on communities of people gathered around one faith, communities which often display a fundamental drive towards helping each other in times of need. This involves anything from financial support, to moral support, and to small gestures as driving the patients to and fro, taking them to the hospital, and helping them through the difficult trials of chemotherapy.
The analyses was focused on finding links between spirituality and how people feel and their symptoms during their fight with cancer, and especially during its painful treatment. The research sources contained data pertaining to 44 thousand cancer patients. The results showed that, no matter how varied the conditions and the subjects, religious belief played a key role in many cases, and was almost completely linked to better health.
The studies did not see any noticeable differences between the types of religion that the patients were practicing.
Heather Jim, the leader of one of the studies, has said that the data is a wide estimate, and that patients who are not actively religious or spiritual should not fear for their lives if they do not endorse a specific religion.
Furthermore, in a clarification for Reuters via email, Jim said that the data did not have much scientific backing, as it relied on patients’ recounts of their own experience, so in many cases, religion may have been a type of spiritual placebo. This does not change the fact that the patients felt better overall, and had a better mental state while struggling with their type of cancer.
Another set of data looked at the health of 32,000 cancer patients and linked it to how spiritual the people were. This confirmed what the patients had been saying: better health was indeed linked to higher spirituality. This may also be because of the fact that religious people often avoid vices like smoking, drinking alcohol, or other unhealthy activities.
Still, there remains the problem of those who doubt their faith when contracting a disease. For this very reason, the studies state that it should not be an immediate assumption that those religious will also have an easier fight with cancer.
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