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Study: Read more books, live a longer life

Although reading is widely known to be good for the brain, researchers at Yale report it may also be good for overall health.

By Stephen Feller
Reading a book for as little as 30 minutes per day can reduce risk of death by about 20 percent, researchers at Yale University report in a recent study. Photo by nito/Shutterstock
Reading a book for as little as 30 minutes per day can reduce risk of death by about 20 percent, researchers at Yale University report in a recent study. Photo by nito/Shutterstock

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Everybody reads -- how else to consume the endless stream of posts on Facebook and Twitter -- but a new study suggests reading a book for as little as 30 minutes a day may help people live longer.

Books, but not necessarily newspapers, magazines or other sources of written material, may lower the risk of death by about 20 percent, according to researchers at Yale University.

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Previous studies have suggested reading is beneficial for mood, sleep and may even help delay Alzheimer's disease and other cognitive conditions, but the new study extends the benefits of reading to the rest of the body, researchers say.

"People who report as little as a half-hour a day of book reading had a significant survival advantage over those who did not read," Becca Levy, a professor of epidemiology at Yale University, told the New York Times. "And the survival advantage remained after adjusting for wealth, education, cognitive ability and many other variables."

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For the study, published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, researchers analyzed data from 3,635 participants in the Health and Retirement Study on their reading habits.

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Based on survival information tracked as long as 12 years after the start of the study, and adjusting data for age, sex, race, education, wealth, depression and other health conditions, people who read books for at least 30 minutes per day had a 20 percent reduction in risk of death.

A similar, though much smaller, effect was seen in people who read newspapers and magazines.

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"These findings suggest that the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them," researchers wrote in the study.

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