Staying in school can literally slow aging and boost longevity

A recent study published in JAMA Network Open suggests that staying in school directly impacts the aging process’ slowing down and increasing longevity.

The findings shed light on the long-term health benefits associated with higher levels of education.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, analyzed data from over 1,200 individuals who participated in the Health and Retirement Study [1]. The participants, aged 56 to 84 years old, provided information about their education levels, health status and lifestyle habits.

The results revealed a clear connection between education level and biological age. Participants with higher levels of education tended to have a slower rate of biological aging compared to those with lower levels of education.

This was determined by analyzing various aging-associated biomarkers, including telomere length, epigenetic age and physical function.

Telomeres, the protective caps at the end of chromosomes, shorten with age and cellular damage [2]. The study found that individuals with more years of education had longer telomeres, suggesting decreased cellular aging.

Additionally, epigenetic age, a measure of biological age based on changes in DNA methylation patterns, was lower in individuals with higher education levels.

Similarly, the study found that education was associated with better physical function in older adults. Participants with higher levels of education performed better on tests assessing grip strength, walking speed and balance, suggesting a lower risk of age-related decline in physical abilities.

The researchers also accounted for various factors that could influence the results, such as socioeconomic status, smoking and chronic health conditions. The association between education and biological age remained significant even after adjusting for these variables.

The findings are essential for public health policies and interventions promoting healthy aging. Encouraging individuals to pursue higher education could significantly improve overall health and longevity.

Investing in education early in life may benefit individuals academically and economically and contribute to a longer and healthier lifespan [3].

While the study provides valuable insights into the relationship between education and aging, further research is needed to understand this association’s underlying mechanisms.

Future studies could explore the impact of educational interventions on biological aging and investigate potential pathways, such as cognitive stimulation, social engagement and access to resources.

​[1] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2815654
[2] https://www.genome.gov/genetics-glossary/Telomere#
[3] https://societyhealth.vcu.edu/work/the-projects/why-education-matters-to-health-exploring-the-causes.html

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