Educational success can slow down aging, study confirms

Credit: Unsplash+.

A recent study conducted by Columbia University has revealed a fascinating connection between education and aging.

Participants of the Framingham Heart Study who gained more education than their parents were found to age more slowly and live longer lives.

This new research, published in JAMA Network Open, marks the first time educational mobility has been linked to the pace of biological aging and the risk of mortality.

The Framingham Heart Study, which began in 1948 and now includes data from three generations, served as the foundation for this analysis. The study focused on understanding how achieving higher levels of education affects our health over time.

According to Daniel Belsky, Ph.D., the senior author of the paper, this research aims to unravel the complexities behind why more educated individuals tend to have longer lifespans and whether promoting education can actively contribute to healthier, longer lives.

To measure the pace of aging, researchers utilized a tool called the DunedinPACE epigenetic clock. This innovative approach examines chemical tags on DNA from white blood cells, providing insights into how quickly or slowly a person’s body ages.

The findings were striking: an additional two years of schooling could slow aging by 2-3%, which corresponds to about a 10% lower risk of dying.

This discovery builds upon previous work by Belsky, demonstrating the powerful association between slower aging and increased longevity.

The study analyzed data from 14,106 participants across three generations of the Framingham Heart Study.

By comparing children’s education levels with their parents’ and examining differences in educational attainment among siblings, the researchers could isolate the effects of education on aging.

This approach allowed them to control for family background and other factors that could influence the results.

Gloria Graf, a Ph.D. candidate and the study’s first author, explained that focusing on educational mobility—how much more education a person achieves compared to their parents or siblings—helps to clarify the true impact of education on aging.

The study found that individuals who surpassed their family’s educational history not only aged more slowly but also had a reduced risk of death.

This pattern held true across different generations and within families, indicating that siblings who achieved higher education levels aged more slowly than their less educated siblings.

The implications of these findings are significant. They suggest that efforts to promote educational attainment could be a key strategy in slowing the biological aging process and extending life expectancy.

However, as Belsky notes, further experimental evidence is needed to confirm these results definitively.

The use of epigenetic clocks like DunedinPACE in future studies could offer valuable insights into how education impacts healthy aging, potentially leading to interventions that enhance longevity before the onset of disease and disability.

If you care about wellness, please read studies about how ultra-processed foods and red meat influence your longevity, and why seafood may boost healthy aging.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.

The research findings can be found in JAMA Network Open.

Copyright © 2024 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.