(HealthDay News) – Additional schooling is associated with a small reduction in mortality, but only after 40 years of age, according to a study published online May 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Anton Carl Jonas Lager, PhD, MPH, and Jenny Torssander, from Stockholm University, examined mortality in 1,247,867 individuals born in Sweden between 1943 and 1955. From 1949–1962, Sweden had instituted a one-year increase in compulsory schooling in some municipalities, and mortality was compared for those exposed to the reform and unexposed controls.

At the end of 2007, the researchers found that there were 92,351 deaths. Overall, there was significantly reduced mortality in the group receiving additional schooling, but only after 40 years of age (HR, 0.96). The lower risk was observed for overall cancer, lung cancer, and accidents. For women, a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease was noted, and for men, a lower risk from overall external causes. The reduced mortality was observed for those in the experimental group with compulsory schooling only (HR, 0.94) and those with compulsory schooling plus vocational training (HR, 0.92).

“Lower mortality in the experimental group was also found among the least educated, a group that clearly benefited from the reform in terms of educational length,” the authors conclude. “However, all estimates are small and there was no evident impact of the reform on all-cause mortality in all ages.”

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