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Higher Childhood IQ Linked With Longer Life

S u m m a r y :

Higher IQ during childhood is linked with a longer life, according to a pair of linked studies published in the journal the BMJ.

More Intelligence, Longer Life

So, it is true—intelligent people do live longer! Previous studies have actually hinted at this: that people with higher IQ will generally have a relatively longer life than those less endowed. However, these research works come with their limitations: they involve mostly male participants from whom data was gathered up until middle adulthood only.

The new study, on the other hand, conducted by scientists from the University of Edinburgh, focused on the link between intelligence (determined by test scores) measured at age 11 and causes of death in men and women up to the age of 79 years old; the participants were 33,536 men and 32,229 women from Scotland, and born in 1936, who took a validated childhood intelligence test back when they were 11 years of age.

Intelligence & Lower Risks for Diseases

The findings show that higher IQ in childhood is linked with a lower lifetime risk of some main causes of death like coronary heart disease, stroke, smoking-related cancers, respiratory disease, digestive disease, dementia, and external causes like suicide and injury.

Higher childhood IQ appears to be associated with a lower risk of death until 79 years of age.

More specifically, a higher intelligence test score was linked with:

  1. A 28% lower risk of death from respiratory disease
  2. A 25% reduced risk of death from coronary heart disease
  3. A 24% reduced risk of death from stroke

Lifestyle Choices: Smoking

Furthermore, lifestyle choices appear to be an important element of the association, namely smoking-related cancers of lung of stomach. Such associations were also seen for deaths caused by injuries, digestive disease and dementia.

Childhood intelligence did not seem to be linked with death from cancers not resulting from smoking.

Risk Factors & Genetics

The authors conclude that childhood IQ has a strong link with causes of death that will greatly depend on certain risk factors. For instance, tobacco smoking might have a particular implication in these cases. The underlying reasons are, however, unknown; the researchers explain that more experiments will have to be conducted to understand whether IQ is linked with longevity through genetics or some other factor.


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