People with a high IQ in childhood live longer than others, researchers found

© Fotolia / Jakub JirsákIQ testPeople with a high IQ in childhood live longer than others, researchers found© Fotolia / Jakub Jirsák

High IQ in childhood and teenage years of life was statistically associated with high life expectancy and a lower probability of dying from 15 kinds of cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases, say scientists in an article published in the journal BMJ.

«What is between IQ and longevity there is a connection, we’ve long suspected. In General, all understood that people with higher IQs live slightly longer than people with average or low IQ. The problem was that we did not have sufficient data set to prove it – in fact, long-term observations of this type were conducted only for men of military age», — says study Daniel Volkstedt (Daniel Falkstedt), a doctor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm (Sweden).

History tests for «intelligence quotient» — IQ (intelligence quotient) — began in 1904, when the British psychologist Charles Spearman (Charles Spearman) found that the ability to solve a range of problems of different types correlate with each other. He suggested that for the implementation of all types of intellectual tasks answers one common factor, which he identified by the letter g (from the «general» — General).

On the basis of work Spearman psychologists began to create various methods of measuring this factor tests and questionnaires to measure IQ. Different studies showed the relationship of IQ with heredity, socio-economic factors with gender. In recent years, many scientists began to doubt that IQ in childhood really reflects the potential of human development and predicts its success in the future as his level can vary greatly in childhood and adolescence from year to year.

The Ian diri (Ian Deary) at the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) and his colleagues have uncovered the link between IQ and life expectancy, summarizing extremely large-scale observations, which was conducted in Scotland since 1947 to December 2015.

In this project, we are told by scientists, was attended by more than 65 thousands of Scots born in 1936 and regularly held to check the sharpness of mind, including IQ tests, as well as a full set of medical examinations. Observations were discontinued only when more than half of the project participants died of natural causes or in accidents.

This allowed diri and his colleagues to obtain the most complete to date picture of how IQ can affect people’s life and its duration. As it turned out, a high IQ in childhood was associated with a reduced probability of dying in the elderly and the adult years for all the reasons related diseases and accidents or bad habits.

For example, people whose IQ was 15 points more than normal, on average 30% less likely to have died from disease and lung cancer than the rest of the people of Scotland. A similar relationship existed for heart disease and blood vessels and stomach cancer – with the increase in IQ, the likelihood of development decreased by 25% and stroke and neurodegenerative diseases by 15-20%.

These relationships, as noted by diri and his colleagues, the scientists had not seen before for one simple reason – socioeconomic factors and educational level in adult years of life have distorted the results of the observations is much stronger than predicted by the sociologists. Now the researchers plan to compare the results of their observations with data of genomic analysis, which they hope will help to understand which genes may link longevity and high level of intelligence.