Many studies have shown that smoking is terrible for your health. But a new study reveals that a lack of education can be just as deadly.
The study, which was carried out by researchers from the University of Colorado, University of North Carolina and New York University, revealed that over 145,000 U.S. deaths could have been prevented had these people not dropped out of high school. Researchers have pointed out that studies have showed that a similar number of deaths could have been prevented if people decided against smoking.
The study also showed that roughly 110,000 deaths could have been averted had those who died received some college experience or completed a bachelor’s degree. It goes on to suggest that, had the entire population of the United States held at least a bachelor’s degree in the year 2010, more than half a million deaths could have been prevented.
Virginia Chang, an associate professor at NYU and one of the study’s lead authors, says education helps people make wiser health decisions. “In public health policy, we often focus on changing health behaviors such as diet, smoking, and drinking,” Chang said. “Education, which is a more fundamental, upstream driver of health behaviors and disparities, should also be a key element of U.S. health policy.”
Of course, higher education can also mean more money–an important factor in determining one’s health status, particularly in the United States. “In the simplest version, people with more education have higher income and more money,” Chang said. “They can afford to eat better, a gym membership or a personal trainer, support to quit smoking.”