• Second in a three-part series.Mormon men live 10 years longer than other U.S. white males.Mormon women live more than five years longer than other U.S. white females.Those are the among the results of a 25-year study into the health habits and the longevity of the Mormon lifestyle by non-Mormon UCLA professors James E. Enstrom and Lester Breslow, who summarized their research with the conclusion: "Several healthy characteristics of the Mormon lifestyle are associated with substantially reduced death rates and increased life expectancy."The study, conducted from 1980 to 2004, included information from questionnaire responses by more than 9,800 faithful Mormon couples and concluded that practicing Mormons in California had the lowest total death rates and the longest life expectancies ever documented in a well-defined U.S. cohort. The authors concluded the findings suggest a model for substantial disease prevention in the general population.Mormons live by a health code called the "Word of Wisdom." They abstain from alcohol, tobacco, tea and coffee because the body is the temple of the spirit (I Cor. 3:16-17).The study revealed Mormon males had a life expectancy of 84.1 years — 9.8 years longer than that of U.S. white males. Mormon females had a life expectancy of 86.1 years — 5.6 years longer than U.S. white females.Enstrom explained in a telephone interview that there was less difference in the comparison of women than of men because women generally live substantially longer than men because of fewer risk factors in their occupations and lives.Another staggeringly significant fact to emerge from the study: The more strictly and constantly Mormons followed Mormon lifestyle elements, the longer they live.Other interesting findings from the study include:Religiously active LDS men, i.e. high priests, have 40 percent less chance, on average over the years, of dying than white American men.
  • Active Mormon women have 27 percent less chance, on average over the years, of dying than white American women.
  • Mormon men who never smoked, attend church at least weekly, obtained at least 12 years of education and are married have a 50 percent less chance, on average over the years, of dying than their national counterparts.
  • Mormon women who do the same things have a 34 percent less chance, on average over the years, of dying than their counterparts. These are called optimal Mormon groups in the study.
  • The probability of death is lowered to 52 percent for Mormon men and 40 percent for Mormon women who consistently live the Word of Wisdom, based on the measurement of moderate body mass index.
  • If you add regular physical activity and seven to eight hours of sleep per night, the probability of death is 56 percent less for Mormon men and 43 percent less for Mormon women than their counterparts.

The results of Enstrom and Breslow's study were published in "Preventive Medicine" in 2008. Since the study was published, Enstrom has not seen anything that contradicted his conclusions."Active California Mormons practice a healthy lifestyle advocated by their religion, which emphasizes a strong family life, education and abstention from tobacco and alcohol," Enstrom said.The low mortality findings are consistent with earlier studies which found low rates of cancer in Mormons.

Notes: Mark W. Cannon is a former chairman of the BYU Political Science Department. He has held high level positions in each of the three branches of the federal government, including being staff director for the Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. His Ph.D. is in Political Economy and Government from Harvard University.Danielle Stockton is a recent convert to the LDS Church. She was editor of the student newspaper at the elite Madeira School in Virginia. She now attends BYU.