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What to study to live longer

London, July 31 (Reuters): Medical students live longer than all other graduates except possibly engineers, according to research published today.

British epidemiologists investigated the link between mortality and faculty subject in 9,887 men who had health checks while studying at Glasgow University between 1948 and 1968.

“We can conclude that during the period of over 40 years after university entrance, doctors are at lower risk of death than their peers — some compensation, perhaps, for the reported unhappiness in their profession,” said Peter McCarron.

McCarron headed the research team and is now based at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France.

The findings, reported in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, show that the medics’ mortality was lowest even though they had the second-highest rates of smoking at university.

The risk of death was 42 per cent higher among former arts students and 30 per cent higher among law students.

Divinity students had the lowest blood pressure and were least likely to consume alcohol but their risk of dying was still 10 per cent higher than the medics.

Only engineering students did marginally better than the medics.

Arts students were twice as likely as medical students to die of lung cancer but half as likely to die from accident, suicide or violent means.

However, the medics were twice as likely as all other students to die from alcohol-related causes.

The researchers said there were several possible explanations for the longer life expectancy of medical students.

A medical or science degree was more likely than an arts degree to result in a permanent job and good income, a factor known to benefit health.

Although the medical students smoked more than anyone else except law students, they may have been more likely to quit and therefore to have gained the health benefit.

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