By Brandon Young
As physical and psychological health issues of the American population seem to be a popular subject, simple spiritual suggestions by a particular religion have existed for nearly 2 centuries; and lately, scientists and dieticians seem to be agreeing with their teachings. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (known as LDS or Mormon) religion live a strict set of guidelines that have shown them to have a lower risk for cancer, heart failure, and stroke. This in turn means they tend to live a longer, healthier life.
Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of the religion received revelation from God back in 1833 (over a decade before the Food and Drug Administration began) that detailed specific commandments for health standards early members of the church were counseled to live. Members of the church today still live and abide by this counsel, known as the “Word of Wisdom”.
The Word of Wisdom is part of the official LDS doctrine and begins by warning about the “evils and plans which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days…” possibly referring to tobacco companies well aware of the health risks caused by tobacco. This was later manifested when R.J. Reynolds was quoted in the London Times saying, “We don’t smoke [it], we sell it. We reserve that right for the young, the poor, the black and the stupid.” Members of the LDS church are counseled against tobacco in any form. The Word of Wisdom clearly outlines, “tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man…” This doctrine was released by the Mormon Church in 1833, when evidence that tobacco was linked directly to lung cancer didn’t surface until the 1950s.
In February 2009 WebMD Health News released a study that detailed the risks of alcohol to women. The WebMD news story stated, “Women who drink as little as one alcoholic beverage a day – be it beer wine or hard liquor – have an increased cancer risk…” One-hundred seventy-six years prior the LDS church banned alcohol from the revelation received in the Word of Wisdom, “…as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it isn’t good…” Alcohol contains cancerous chemicals that have been linked to other cancers including liver, mouth, lung and stomach. This appears to be long known news for the Mormons.
Herbal supplements, natural fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, and other items typically only seen on shelves of health food stores has made a hundreds of thousands of Americans re-think their eating habits. This too has been outlined in Mormon doctrine for decades as they have been counseled to eat grains, wholesome herbs, and eat meat sparingly, which has also been linked to cancer.
Due to the counsel of the Word of Wisdom, members of the LDS church tend to have a higher life expectancy. This may be linked directly to the strict diet guidelines, but may also come from a healthier lifestyle and better social support that usually come with religious affiliation. Interestingly, as research continues, it seems to align itself with teachings of the LDS church that have been taught for years.
1. Doctrine & Covenants section 89
2. Boston University Medical Center History of Tobacco
3. CARA – Cigarette Addiction
4. WebMD – Salynn Boyles, Alcohol Linked to Cancer Risk in Women
5. BBC News – Red Meat ‘Linked to Cancer Risk’
6. Ray M Merrill – Life Expectancy among LDS and Non-LDS in Utah
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