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Adolescent Intelligence Link to Adult Mortality Negotiable

Last Updated: July 02, 2009.

The association between IQ in adolescence and mortality in later life is almost entirely attenuated by other risk factors, according to a study published online July 1 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

THURSDAY, July 2 (HealthDay News) -- The association between IQ in adolescence and mortality in later life is almost entirely attenuated by other risk factors, according to a study published online July 1 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Tomas Hemmingsson, Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues analyzed data on 49,321 men born in 1949 to 1951 who were conscripted for military training in 1969 to 1970, when their cognitive ability, mental health, social adjustment and behavior were assessed. As most men in Sweden were conscripted at that time, the sample is representative of the Swedish male population.

The researchers discovered that there was an inverse and graded association between IQ and mortality between the ages of 40 and 53 years, and the hazard ratio for mortality in the lowest of nine IQ groups, compared with the highest, decreased from 3.3 to 1.2 after adjustment for risk factors. However, once the data was adjusted to take into account mental health problems, behavioral risk factors, and adult social circumstances, the association no longer held, the investigators found.

"We found that the association between IQ and mortality disappeared entirely after adjustment in the analyses for adult social circumstances and social and behavioral factors measured in late adolescence," the authors conclude. "The association between IQ and mortality was strongly mediated by adult social circumstances."

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