Researchers say reading may increase lifespan

The millions of fans who lined up at midnight for the release of the final Harry Potter book may be on to something, as scientists have found reading books may help us live longer by as many as two years. Their study, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, also found that adults who reported reading magazine and newspaper showed an increase in longevity compared to nonreaders.

Researchers, led by Becca R. Levy, a professor of epidemiology at Yale University School of Public Health, analyzed data of 3,635 men and women who were part of the Health and Retirement Study and were followed for an average of 12 years, Medical News Today reported. Study participants were instructed to self-report their reading habits.

Study authors found that those who reported reading books for up to three and a half hours each week were 17 percent less likely to die over the 12-year follow-up period, while those who spent more than three and a half hours reading each week were 23 percent less likely to die.

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Overall, researchers reported that adults who read books survived almost two years longer than nonreaders, Medical News Today reported. The study’s results stayed the same when researchers considered various life and health factors.

Levy and her team suspect that the increase in survival rate may be due to cognitive benefits that reading can provide. According to the report, there were 571 million printed books sold in the United States in 2015, compared with 559 million in 2014.