More intelligent people are at a lower risk of suicide, research finds.
In fact, intelligence emerges as a generally protective factor against health problems.
People with higher intelligence are also less likely to suffer heart attacks and have accidents.
Dr David Batty, the study’s first author, said:
“People with higher IQ test scores tend to be less likely to smoke or drink alcohol heavily, they eat better diets, and they are more physically active.
So they have a range of better behaviours that may partly explain their lower mortality risk.”
The conclusions come from a study of one million Swedish men.
They were conscripted into the Swedish army at 18 and their health was followed into middle age.
The researchers think the link could be partly down to healthier behaviours of those with a higher IQ.
Dr Batty said:
“If you believe the association between IQ and mortality is at least partially explained by people with a lower IQ having worse behaviours – which is plausible – then it might be that the messages used to change health behaviours are too complicated.”
IQ can be increased through preschool education and nutrition, studies have found.
Dr Batty said:
“Messages about diet, including how much or what type of alcohol is beneficial, aren’t simple, and the array of strategies available for quitting smoking are diverse and actually quite complicated.
If you clarify the options available to people who want to, say, quit smoking, in the short term that may have an effect.”
A further study by Dr Batty and colleagues on 4,000 US soldiers found the same thing: that those with higher IQs lived longer.
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The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (Batty et al., 2017).