Posted on Jul 06, 2010, 6 a.m.
Danish study suggests that one’s upbringing, as opposed to education level, may be an essential key to living a long and healthy life.
A number of previous studies have shown an association between level of education and prospects for a healthy and extended lifespan. A new study suggests that one’s upbringing, as opposed to education level, may be an essential key to living a long and vital life. Mia Madsen from the University of Southern Denmark, and colleagues finds that much of the education-longevity link vanished when comparing twins who differed in how long they had been in school. Reviewing Denmark data from 1921 to 1950, the team identified more than 2,000 twin pairs, whose educations differed in length and where at least one of whom had died. While subjects with no more than seven years of study were approximately 25% percent more likely to have died, when the team compared twins within each pair that difference became much less pronounced and could be considered a random occurrence. Observing that: “Educational differences in mortality were demonstrated in the standard cohort analyses but attenuated in the intrapair analyses in all subgroups but men born during 1921–1935, and no effect modification by zygosity was observed,” the researchers suggest that: “The results are most compatible with an effect of early family environment in explaining the educational inequality in mortality.”
Mia Madsen, Anne-Marie Nybo Andersen, Kaare Christensen, Per Kragh Andersen, Merete Osler. “Does Educational Status Impact Adult Mortality in Denmark? A Twin Approach.” Am. J. Epidemiol., June 7, 2010; doi: doi:10.1093/aje/kwq072.