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Research shows close family relationships help you live longer

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

TORONTO, September 6, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Researchers have once again affirmed the value of the traditional family.

The University of Toronto’s School of Public Health led a study that found elderly men and women who had close family ties were more likely to live longer than those who were not particularly close to their family.

Even those with close friends did not fare as well as those with positive family relationships, lead researcher James Iveniuk found.

"Family relationships seem more vital than friendships," Iveniuk told CBS News. “You can be close to your friends, but it didn’t have a big effect. But if you were not close to your family, you were at greater risk of dying."

Specifically, Iveniuk said the results of the study, announced at the American Sociological Association convention in Seattle, found those not close to their family more often suffered a heart attack or a stroke.

Study participants listed their closest confidants and described those relationships. Those who listed family other than spouses were found to have a 6 percent risk of dying within five years, while those who did not list family as close confidants had a 14 percent risk of dying in five years.

The study also seemed to affirm large families. Researchers discovered that those who listed more family members were less likely to die in five years than those who listed fewer family members.

The four factors for longevity, according to Iveniuk and fellow researcher and biostatistician L. Philip Schumm of the University of Chicago, are being married, having family and friends, social activity, and having close confidants.

Iveniuk speculated about the reasons for longevity among close family, saying that perhaps it was due to "expectations about your family taking care of you," whereas friends may move away.

Internationally known author ("Children at Risk" and "Marriage Matters"), speaker, and columnist Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., told LifeSiteNews that the results of this study are not surprising and affirm the central role of family in personal and societal health.  She lamented that such family support is diminishing. "The tentacles of family breakdown are at the root of every social problem we face in America," she said.

A speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush and senior fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, Crouse has twice been an official U.S. delegate to the United Nations and served as executive director of the 2015 World Congress of Families. She concludes from professional experience that "family — a married mom and dad — provides the best foundation for children's well-being.”

“Equally important, the married mom and dad family is the best foundation for the well-being of society."

The study was criticized by Dr. Gisele Wolf-Klein of Northwell Health in Great Neck, New York, for not expanding "the concept of family" to include non-blood relations, such as unmarried "family," or "a homosexual or transgender situation."

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