Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Foggy Connection Between Education and Health

Would you believe that staying in school longer could help you live longer? Well, it can and it can't, according to an article at the New York Times.

In the piece, Times writer Gina Kolata speaks with health experts from the RAND Corporation, the National Institute on Aging, the City University of New York and others, all of which agree that greater education is somehow linked to longer lives. Where it gets murky is how education affects lifespan.

Could education somehow alter your body's chemistry, genetic makeup of state of mind in such a way that you live longer? Nah. But education can lead to other factors, like wealth, that are linked to longevity as well. Wealth, of course, usually leads to better access to health care, which naturally leads to a longer life.

But wait, there's more. Economics professor Adriana Lleras-Muney, who wrote a "prize-winning" paper on the connection between education and lifespan, suggested to the Times that discipline acquired through schooling may play a role.

"As a group, less educated people are less able to plan for the future and to delay gratification. If true, that may, for example, explain the differences in smoking rates between more educated people and less educated ones," read the Times.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.