Genetic variants linked to education predict longevity

Social Science Genetic Association Consortium, R. E. Marioni*, S. J. Ritchie, P. K. Joshi, S. P. Hagenaars, A. Okbay, K. Fischer, M. J. Adams, W. D. Hill, G. Davies, R. Nagy, C. Amador, K. Läll, A. Metspalu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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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 higher polygenic education score was associated with ∼2.7% lower mortality risk for both mothers (total ndeaths= 79,702) and ∼2.4% lower 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 y longer compared with 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.

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


  • Education
  • Genetics
  • Longevity
  • Polygenic score
  • Prediction


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