Role of religion in health

In other association reports, religion was described as good medicine:

* Dale Matthews of Washington's Georgetown University reviewed 212 studies on the influence of religious belief on health. He found that 75 percent showed a positive effect. Only 7 percent concluded that religion could damage health.

* A study of 4,000 elderly women, not yet complete, shows that ''people who attend church are both physically healthier and less depressed,'' said Dr. Harold Koenig of Duke University Medical Center.

* One study conducted in San Francisco, randomly separated 393 seriously ill heart patients into two groups. Half were prayed for, half were not, and no one knew which group they were in. The prayer recipients suffered fewer health complications.

''This is outside the realm of science,'' said Jeffrey Levin of Eastern Virginia Medical School. ''If God heals, it's a matter of faith.''

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