Church attendance and a longer, healthier life go hand in hand, according to a study of 6,545 Californians. Weekly church goers had significantly lower risk of death than did those who went to services less frequently or not at all, said researchers from the Human Population Laboratories of the Public Health Institute, the California Department of Health Services and the University of California, Berkeley. "We found this difference even after adjusting for factors such as social connections and health behaviors, including smoking and exercising," said Doug Oman of UC Berkeley, lead author of the study reported in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine. "The fact that the risk of death by several different causes is lower for those who attend religious services every week suggests that we should look to some psychological factor for answers. Maybe frequent attendees experience a greater sense of inner peace, perhaps because they can draw upon religious coping practices to help them deal with stressful events." The scientists found those who attended religious services less than once a week or never had a 21 percent greater overall risk of dying and a 21 percent greater risk of dying from circulatory diseases. Oman said the study adds to a growing body of evidence that religious practices are generally linked to better health.