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Staying in education for longer may help maintaining a healthy heart

There are many good ways of maintaining health of your heart. You should exercise, avoid prolonged periods of sitting, eat less fat food and so on. But did you know that staying in education for longer may help you avoiding heart disease? A new study from UCL has shown that more years in education system equals lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Staying longer in education system has a variety of benefits for your mind, career opportunities and health. Image credit: Missmarettaphotography via Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 4.0)

Scientists from UCL, the University of Lausanne, and the University of Oxford analysed 162 genetic variants shown to be linked with years of schooling from 543,733 men and women. Previous studies have shown that longer time of formal education can be linked to lower risk of coronary heart disease. However, previously scientists struggled to isolate the main factors in question – maybe these people exercise more or eat healthier, which is not necessarily related to their time in education system? Analysing genetic information helps taking a step back from other factors and looking at staying at education alone.

Researchers found that 3.6 years of additional education would translate into a one third reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. Genetic predisposition to staying longer in education actually coincides with less likelihood of smoking, lower body mass index, and a more favourable blood fat profile. These factors may be the ones reducing the risk of heart disease. In other words, people who are keener to stay in formal education for longer are already healthier from their genes. This is very interesting, because scientists don’t know if someone who decides to come back to school is reducing his risk of coronary heart disease.

Scientists did some more testing and reviewed scientific literature in this particular subject. So far it seems that the study is accurate as it can be. However, there are some limitations. For example, no one knows how genetic variations influence time in education system. On the other hand, the number of people analysed in this study is pretty large and results are in line with other studies. Dr Taavi Tillman, one of the authors of the study, said: “Our study opens up a completely new angle in the fight against eradicating heart disease: that we should think about also helping people stay in education for longer”.

There are millions of reasons to stay in education for longer. It may help you later in life, it may lead to knowing many interesting people and finding yourself in the world of academia. Now it seems like it may also reduce the risk of coronary disease – the most common cause of death worldwide.

 

Source: UCL

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