Why gaining a degree could help you live longer

The Telegraph reports that gaining a degree dramatically decreases the chance of suffering deadly heart disease, a new study into the link has shown.

A study by Oxford University and University College London, involving more than 500,000 people, found that 3.6 years of additional education, which is similar to an undergraduate university degree, was associated with a one third lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Better educated people were also less likely to smoke, have lower body mass index (BMI) and have a more favourable blood fat profile.

Dr Julien Vaucher, who is now at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, but carried out the research when he was Oxford University, said: “Our results showed that part of the link may be explained by less smoking, lower body weight and better fat levels in the blood.

“However, for the remaining part, it is mysterious. Our study highlights that any attempt to extend years of schooling should be closely monitored to capture any health benefit.

“Knowing that our study demonstrates a likely link between longer education and a lower risk of cardiac disease, policy makers should definitely think of means to increase years of schooling—maybe through different incentives, such as raising awareness, convenience of access and finance.”

Rather than look at how long people spent in school, the study analysed 162 genetic variants already shown to be linked with years of schooling. Most of the variants involved in brain development, particularly in the womb. It meant that other influencing factors could be ruled out, for example socio-economic deprivation which could stop someone staying in education.

Read more Why gaining a degree could help you live longer

What do you think? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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