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|Psychoneuroimmunology, Spirituality, Religiosity, and Health|
Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), through advances in research technologies, has shown that the mind affects the body. We now know that different states of mind have an effect on our health. "Negative" states of mind, such as stress, anger, anxiety, and sadness, impair immune and endocrine system functions and thus increase risk for disease. On the other hand, numerous studies have shown that "positive" states of mind, stress reduction and higher well-being levels all reduce risk for disease. We live in an exciting period in which advances in scientific knowledge are bridging a conceptual gap between science and spirituality and religiosity. This gap was caused by decades of alienation and conflict. Science increasingly acknowledges the significance of spirituality and religion in our health and lives. Scientists now are presenting a large body of research data in this growing field. Studies show that spirituality and religiosity have beneficial effects on mental and physical health and reduce morbidity and mortality in many diseases. The World Health Organization defines health as a complete state of physical, social and psychospiritual well-being. Spirituality and religiosity enhance all three of these components of health.