A study published on June 20 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health links having a college degree with increased risk of developing brain tumors. Those who studied at universities for at least three years were more likely to develop the illness.

The study involved analyzing more than 4.3 million people in Sweden. They were born between 1911 and 1961 and living in Sweden in 1991.

The researchers monitored them between 1993 and 2010. The participants’ marital status, occupation and educational background were all taken into account.

college degree

Higher education level is linked with increased risk of developing brain tumors. Credit: skillscommons.org

A total of 5735 men and 7101 women developed brain tumor. Overall, 1.1 million participants died during the monitoring period.

The team found that men who attended universities at least three years were 19 percent more likely to develop glioma. Glioma is a cancerous tumor from glial cells, which protect and support brain neurons.

The risk in women with the same education level is increased up to 23 percent for glioma and 16 percent for meningioma. Meningioma is benign tumor from the meninges, which protect the brain and spinal cord.

Other factors like marital status and income did not significantly impact the risk increase. Even if it did, it only affected men.

Higher disposable income led to a 14 percent increased chances of developing only glioma in men. Higher disposable income did not affect women’s risk.

Men and women with professional or managerial jobs experienced a 20 percent increased risk of glioma and 50 percent increased risk of acoustic neuroma. Acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that grows on the nerve responsible for balance and hearing.

Compared to women in manual jobs, women with professional and managerial jobs have an increased 26 percent risk to developing glioma. The risk was 14 percent higher in these professional women.

Interestingly, single men have a lower risk of getting glioma. However, they are at an increased risk of getting meningioma. The same observations were not found in women.

Still, the researchers assert that this study only showed the link. It does not demonstrate that having a college degree automatically causes brain tumor .