Prescription for longer life: school

Prescription for longer life: school

Here’s something to motivate those students having a tough time in class: Your education level might have a bearing on how long you live.

That’s according to a multi-institution study led by the Yale School of Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. It found that your educational level was a predictor of what researchers call the Years of Potential Life Lost. This is a person’s projected life expectancy minus their actual age at death.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, followed more than 5,000 people for about 29 years. The participants were from four urban centers and were recruited starting when they were 18 to 30 years old. During the course of the study, nearly 400 of those people died.

Scientists wanted to analyze the impact of race and education on life expectancy. They found a racial component to longevity, noting 9% of African Americans died at an early age compared with 6% of whites. Looking at education alone, 13% of those with a high school diploma died early compared with only 5% of college graduates.

But when looking at race and education together, white and black longevity appeared similar.

The study notes that, even when accounting for other variables such as income, one’s education level was still the best predictor of premature death. Indeed, researchers calibrated that each educational step equaled 1.37 years of life expectancy.

One scientist calls the findings powerful and says improving access to quality education might help reverse a trend in lower life expectancy among middle-aged adults.

So, go to school. Or go back to school. You may live longer to appreciate it.

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