Objective: The objective is to measure the relationship of several healthy characteristics of the Mormon lifestyle to mortality.
Method: We examined 9815 religiously active California Mormon adults followed for mortality during 1980-2004 and 15,832 representative U.S. white adults enrolled in the 1987 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and followed for mortality during 1988-1997. The standardized mortality ratio (SMR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) was calculated relative to U.S. whites defined to have a SMR of 1.00.
Results: Active California Mormons practice a healthy lifestyle advocated by their religion, which emphasizes a strong family life, education and abstention from tobacco and alcohol. Unusually low SMRs occurred among married never smokers who attended church weekly and had at least 12 years of education. For those aged 25-99 years at entry, the SMR for all causes of death was 0.45 (0.42-0.48) for males and 0.55 (0.51-0.59) for females. For those aged 25-64 years at entry, the SMR for all causes of death was 0.36 (0.32-0.41) for males and 0.46 (0.40-0.53) for females. Life expectancy from age 25 was 84 years for males and 86 years for females. These SMRs were largely replicated among similarly defined persons of all religions within the NHIS cohort.
Conclusions: Several healthy characteristics of the Mormon lifestyle are associated with substantially reduced death rates and increased life expectancy.