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Higher IQ in childhood is linked to a longer life

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 28 June 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2932
  1. Daniel Falkstedt, assistant professor1,
  2. Anton C J Lager, head of unit2
  1. 1Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  2. 2Surveillance and Analysis, Centre for Epidemiology and Community Medicine, Stockholm, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to: D Falkstedt daniel.falkstedt{at}

New data on cause of death suggest the link is mediated by risk factors such as smoking

The association between intelligence level (IQ) measured during childhood or adolescence and longevity has been observed in many studies. It is clear that, on average, individuals with higher IQs have tended to live a little longer than those with lower IQs. A limitation in the evidence base so far, however, has been an over-reliance on studies of male conscripts followed up only to middle adulthood.

In a linked paper (doi:10.1136/bmj.j2708), Calvin and colleagues now report findings from the first study of a whole population birth cohort linking intelligence test scores from age 11 among girls and boys born in Scotland in 1936 to 68 years of data on cause of death.1 They found that higher IQ scores in this cohort were associated with lower rates of death until age 79, including deaths from coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, respiratory disease, digestive disease, external causes of death, and dementia. …

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