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  1. Dean Pomerleau

    Read More, Live Longer

    All, This new study [1] (NY Times coverage) found that reading benefits survival. Researchers asked 3600+ older adults about their reading habits and then followed them for up to 12 years. They found that people who reported reading (even a little) were about 20% less likely to die during follow-up than those who reported reading not at all or only very rarely, even after adjusting for age, sex, race, education, comorbidities, self-rated health, wealth, marital status, and depression. Here are the survival graphs for the readers vs. non-readers: Reading books was better for survival than reading newspapers or magazines, but they too were associated with increased survival (about a 10% lower risk of dying). In additional analysis, they found that reading books was still associated with decreased mortality risk even once baseline cognitive ability was factored out. How much reading did it take? Not too much. People in the second tertile of reading amount (0.1 - 3.5 hours/week) benefited almost as much as those in the highest tertile (> 3.5 hours / week). Admittedly, it's hard to correct for every single potential confounder in this type of study, but it appears that independent of intelligence & cognitive abilities, and independent of a host of other potential confounders, reading is beneficial for longevity. --Dean ---------- [1] Soc Sci Med. 2016 Jul 18;164:44-48. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.07.014. [Epub ahead of print] A chapter a day: Association of book reading with longevity. Bavishi A(1), Slade MD(1), Levy BR(2). Author information: (1)Yale University School of Public Health, Laboratory of Epidemiology and Public Health, 60 College Street, New Haven, CT 06510, USA. (2)Yale University School of Public Health, Laboratory of Epidemiology and Public Health, 60 College Street, New Haven, CT 06510, USA. Electronic address: becca.levy@yale.edu. Full text: http://sci-hub.cc/10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.07.014 Although books can expose people to new people and places, whether books also have health benefits beyond other types of reading materials is not known. This study examined whether those who read books have a survival advantage over those who do not read books and over those who read other types of materials, and if so, whether cognition mediates this book reading effect. The cohort consisted of 3635 participants in the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study who provided information about their reading patterns at baseline. Cox proportional hazards models were based on survival information up to 12 years after baseline. A dose-response survival advantage was found for book reading by tertile (HRT2 = 0.83, p < 0.001, HRT3 = 0.77, p < 0.001), after adjusting for relevant covariates including age, sex, race, education, comorbidities, self-rated health, wealth, marital status, and depression. Book reading contributed to a survival advantage that was significantly greater than that observed for reading newspapers or magazines (tT2 = 90.6, p < 0.001; tT3 = 67.9, p < 0.001). Compared to non-book readers, book readers had a 23-month survival advantage at the point of 80% survival in the unadjusted model. A survival advantage persisted after adjustment for all covariates (HR = .80, p < .01), indicating book readers experienced a 20% reduction in risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow up compared to non-book readers. Cognition mediated the book reading-survival advantage (p = 0.04). These findings suggest that the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.07.014 PMID: 27471129
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