'Every year spent in education improves life expectancy': UAE doctors, educators explain new study

Doctors stressed it is essential to recognise that genetics, environment, lifestyle choices, and access to healthcare also play crucial roles in longevity


Nandini Sircar

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

Image used for representational purpose
Image used for representational purpose

Published: Tue 25 Jun 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 25 Jun 2024, 9:37 PM

Completing primary, secondary, and tertiary education is comparable to maintaining a lifelong healthy diet, reducing the risk of death by 34 per cent compared to individuals without formal education.

A new analysis in The Lancet Public Health journal links education to gain in longevity.

Every year spent in school or university improves life expectancy while not attending school is as deadly as smoking or heavy drinking, it says.

Stay up to date with the latest news. Follow KT on WhatsApp Channels.

Khaleej Times reached out to a few educators and doctors in the UAE to get a perspective about the new study.

Dr Kholoud Omar
Dr Kholoud Omar

Dr Kholoud Omar, General Practitioner, Prime Medical Center - Rahmania Mall, said, “According to the study, each additional year of schooling completed was associated with a 13 per cent reduction in all-cause mortality risk. The reasons for this appear to be multifaceted.

Higher levels of education are linked to better health literacy, healthier behaviours (like less smoking and drinking), stronger social connections, and greater access to healthcare and resources that support good health. Children and adolescents who miss school also miss out on important health interventions and education provided in the school setting.”

Doctors stressed it is essential to recognise that correlation does not imply causation, and other factors such as genetics, environment, lifestyle choices, and access to healthcare also play crucial roles in determining life expectancy.

Better jobs, better insurance covers

Dr Swetha Dilip, General Practitioner – Dermatology, CosmeSurge Dubai said, “Higher levels of education can lead to better job opportunities, which may provide access to comprehensive health insurance and a supportive work environment that promotes mental health and well-being.”

Dr Swetha Dilip
Dr Swetha Dilip

Medics explained education promotes critical thinking skills and potentially reduces the risk of cognitive decline and related health conditions as individuals age.

Educators pointed out that the UN Sustainable Development Goals 4.1 and 4.3 remind all nations of the important role that education plays in optimizing the health and wellbeing of a community.

Reduced high-risk behaviours

Dr Suzanne Robertson-Malt, Associate Professor, (Director Health Sciences), School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Health - University of Wollongong Dubai said, “This study provides us with the most comprehensive summary, to date, of the important role that education can have on reducing the harmful effects of high-risk behaviours such as chronic smoking and alcohol consumption.”

Dr Suzanne Robertson-Malt
Dr Suzanne Robertson-Malt

They explained that the study serves as a reminder that having the opportunity to attend school is a key factor in ensuring everyone has the chance to live a long and healthy life.

“The study findings suggest that for every year of extra schooling, the risk of dying from the negative health effects of smoking and alcohol consumption went down by about 2 per cent. This benefit was even bigger for younger adults compared to older ones,” added Robertson-Malt.

Another research on life expectancy

Ranju Anand, Senior Vice President – Education, GEMS Education and Principal/CEO, GEMS Cambridge International Private School – Sharjah, said, “Numerous studies have shown that higher levels of education are associated with longer life expectancy. A research published in the journal study by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) showed that each additional year of schooling increases life expectancy by approximately 1.7 years.”

Educators emphasised this relationship holds true across various populations and regions, suggesting that the benefits of education on longevity are both significant and universal.

Dr Rania Zaarour
Dr Rania Zaarour

Dr Rania Zaarour, Associate Professor of Cell Biology and Researcher, Thumbay Research Institute for Precision Medicine – TRIPM, said, “Individuals with greater education tend to engage in healthier behaviours and have better outcomes in managing chronic diseases as well. Therefore, policymakers must recognise this complex relationship and implement laws and policies that promote education while ensuring a healthy and safe environment for the population.”


More news from UAE