Education is generally considered important by most people. In the past women fought for the right to be able to attend schools and universities, and today tens of thousands of students spend a great deal of money, time and energy studying for a college degree in hope of finding a better job once they graduate.
But did you know that education might also be responsible for keeping you alive longer? That’s what researchers concluded in a new study which calculated the risks that low education attainment pose to an individual’s health. The work was published earlier this week, on Wednesday (July 8, 2015), in the journal PLOS One.
For the project the team looked at more than 1 million United States citizens and found that more than 145.000 of the deaths that took place back in 2010 could have easily been prevented if adults who hadn’t previously graduated high school would have taken the time to earn a high school degree or at least a GED.
What’s more, the benefits extend to higher education as well. The researchers said that an additional 110.00 deaths that took place back in 2010 could have also been easily prevented if adults who started college and got some education would have taken the time to complete their bachelor’s degree.
The researchers did mention that they were not able to find definitive proof of a link between lack of education and death, however they stress that there is an undeniable link between the level of education one has and their risk of death, and that lack of education most likely plays some role in the risk of death.
Some of the associations are quite obvious – a higher degree of education is typically associated with a higher income and a better social status, adopting healthier behaviors, and not neglecting your psychological and social well-being. Poverty and lack of knowledge, on the other hand, are known for causing people to make questionable choices.
And on top of everything, the researchers did show that the more educated a person was, the lower their risk of death was over the course of the study. For comparison, the study found that the group of participants who had a high school degree experienced a slight drop in death rates, but that the group of participants who had a bachelor’s degree experienced a much bigger drop in death rates.
The information that the researchers’ work is based on was collected between the years of 1986 and 2006. The generations that the team looked at included those born in 1925, 1935 and 1945.
An interesting note is that heart disease posed a greater risk than cancer to the health of participants with a low level of education. Many more of them died from heart disease than from cancer.
Virginia Chang, study author and associate professor with an expertise in public health over at the School of Culture from New York University, gave a statement informing that health experts working in public health policy usually focus on changing common unhealthy behavior such as a poor diet, drinking and smoking.
But she went on to add that education should be turned into one of the key elements that the United States health policy tackles, as this is a very fundamental, upstream driver that determines people to adopt better health behaviors.
The study also pointed out that over 10 percent (10%) of American adults with the age between 25 and 34 currently don’t have a high school degree, while more than 25 percent (25%) have started college and gotten some education but never complete their bachelor’s degree.
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