Many studies found a link between a higher IQ during childhood and a longer lifespan, but they mostly followed participants only up to middle age. However, a recent study published in the British Medical Journal comes with a longer follow-up and compares childhood IQ not only with longevity, but also with the most widespread causes of death.
Is intelligence related to longevity?
This study brings the longest follow-up in the field, 68 years, which is more comprehensive and can accurately assess the relations between a higher IQ in childhood and health state during older age. Scientists from the University of Edinburgh collected data on 65,000 people who were born in Scotland in 1936.
These participants had had their IQ tested at the age of 11. Researchers used this information to compare it with their cause of death, which was available in 2015, when they would have reached 79 years. They looked for specific causes of mortality, such as heart disease, cancer, digestive or respiratory diseases, dementia, or other possible external causes.
A higher IQ minimizes the risks of developing diseases
Therefore, they discovered that those who had a higher IQ at 11 had been more likely to live until 79, and had smaller risks of dying from those causes. More precisely, higher IQ translated into 24 percent lower risk of stroke, 25 percent lower risk of heart disease, and 28 percent lower risk of death.
Also, a higher intelligence during childhood minimized the risks of developing dementia, cancer, digestive diseases, or suffering injuries. Researchers accounted for gender or socio-economic factors, and the results were still relevant.
As possible explanations for this phenomenon, researchers think those with a higher IQ know how to take better care of themselves, realize the importance of exercising, avoid harmful behaviors, such as smoking, and are more likely to go to the doctor if they don’t feel well.
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