Having a medical professional in the family ups likelihood of hitting 80

Having a nurse or physician in your family can result in a longer life, among other benefits, according to a working paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research and authored by researchers from Stanford (Calif.) Medicine.

Researcher gathered data from Sweden, where lotteries were used to break ties between equally qualified applicants to medical schools in the early 2000s. They examined the health of family members of lottery winners and compared them to the families of those who lost.

The study shows that those who have relatives in the health profession are 10 percent more likely to live beyond 80 years of age.

Additionally, family members of health professionals were less likely to have chronic lifestyle-related conditions, such as heart attacks and diabetes.

Finally, researchers found that health benefits from being related to a healthcare professional occurred across the income spectrum, and especially benefitted those at the lower end of the income distribution. This shows that access to informal health expertise could help mitigate health disparities.

"If the government and healthcare system, including public and private insurers, could mimic what goes on inside families, then we could reduce health inequality by as much as 18 percent," said Petra Persson, PhD, an assistant professor of economics and co-author of the paper.

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