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Fewer qualifications means you will 'age faster'

11th May 2011

A new study has suggested that people with fewer qualifications are prone to age more quickly.

Hands Young and Old

The findings, based on analysis of 400 men and women, said that DNA evidence suggested cellular ageing is more advanced in adults with no qualifications compared with those who have a university degree.

A link between health and socio-economic status has been recognised for some time but the new findings – published in the journal Brain, Behaviour and Immunity – takes this further by suggesting education may be a more precise determinant of a person’s long term health rather than their current income and social status.

Professor Andrew Steptoe from University College London, who led the study, said: “Education is a marker of social class that people acquire early in life, and our research suggests that it is long-term exposure to the conditions of lower status that promotes accelerated cellular ageing.”

His team took blood from more the men and women aged between 53 and 75 and then measured the length of sections of DNA found at the ends of chromosomes.

The results showed that people with lower educational attainment had shorter telomeres, which are thought to be an indicator of faster ageing.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said the research reinforced the need to tackle social inequalities to combat ill-health.

He said: “It's not acceptable that where you live or how much you earn - or lesser academic attainment - should put you at greater risk of ill health.”

 

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