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Genetic variants linked to education predict longevity

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13366-13371
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
Issue number47
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2016


Educational attainment is associated with many health outcomes, including longevity. It is also known to be substantially heritable. Here, we used data from three large genetic epidemiology cohort studies (Generation Scotland, n ≈ 17,000; UK Biobank, n ≈ 115,000; and the Estonian Biobank, n ≈ 6,000) to test whether education-linked genetic variants can predict lifespan length. We did so by using cohort members’ polygenic profile score for education to predict their parents’ longevity. Across the three cohorts, meta-analysis showed that a 1-SD increase in polygenic education score was associated with an approximately 2.7% reduced mortality risk for both mothers (total ndeaths = 79,702) and an approximately 2.4% reduced risk for fathers (total ndeaths = 97,630). On average, the parents of offspring in the upper third of the polygenic score distribution lived 0.55 years longer compared to those of offspring in the lower third. Overall, these results indicate that the genetic contributions to educational attainment are useful in the prediction of human longevity.

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