The longer we learn, the longer we live?
That's what a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests.
Researchers from the Swedish Institute for Social Research and the Centre of Health Equity Studies found that students who have nine years of schooling die less after hitting age 40, compared with students who spend just eight years in schooling.
The research included 1,247,867 people, who were all born between 1943 and 1955 in Sweden. By 2007, 92,351 of those people had died.
The researchers examined their causes of death, and found that people who got the added year of learning had lower risks of death from certain conditions that seem linked with education. For example, women had a lower risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, while men had a lower risk of death from external causes.
The study initially set out to examine whether school standards would be better if children were schooled for longer, Nature News reported. Therefore, in the late 1940s, Sweden tested a new system where some students were schooled for nine years, while others kept to the already-instituted eight years of schooling.
Study researcher Anton Lager told HealthDay that the study doesn't necessarily mean that the added year of education causes you to live longer, but rather that it perhaps taught people more about healthy behaviors and factors that could lead to a longer life.
However, University College London cognitive epidemiologist Marcus Richards told Nature News that it would be hard to replicate the study today.
"No one could advocate deliberately withholding education from a group of children. It would be entirely unethical," Richards told Nature News.
This is definitely not the first news to suggest that more education can improve health and increase lifespan. A study in the journal BMC Public Health showed that more education is linked with lower blood pressure, lower BMI and less smoking in men and women, as well as less alcohol consumption in men.
And a 2008 Harvard study in the journal Health Affairs showed that people who have at least 12 years of education live longer than those with just a high school education. That study looked at education levels and mortality from data from 1981 to 1988 and 1990 to 2000.
Researchers of that study found that the difference in life expectancy is linked with smoking; they noted that past research shows people with less education are less apt to stop smoking than those with more education.
CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this article, the birth dates of the test subjects appeared incomplete. The research included 1,247,867 people, who were all born between 1943 and 1955.