SALT LAKE CITY -- It's been known that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a longer life expectancy, but even researchers are surprised at how much longer Church members live than the general population.
Researchers at UCLA are constantly reviewing data from a 25-year-long survey that followed actively-practicing LDS Church members in California starting in late 1979.
Professors James Enstrom and Lester Breslow found that members who don't smoke, attend church weekly, have 12 years of education and are married had the lowest total death rates and the longest life expectancies ever documented.
"The life expectancy for the males was 84 years, and for the females it was 86 years," Enstrom said.
That's more than five years longer for women and nearly 10 years longer for man than the national average.
Enstrom says Church members have been hearing this for a long time, but the rest of the world hasn't as much.
"None of this had ever been done in a scientific journal until I started working on it in the ‘70s," he said.
Enstrom says he expected a lack of cigarette smoking to be the biggest reason for the longer life expectancy, but he says that would only add a few years to someone's life.
Both authors believe the findings suggest a model for substantial disease prevention in the general population.