Longevity depends on lifespan of parents

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An old woman in Nigeria: longevity determined by one's parents
An old woman in Nigeria: longevity determined by one’s parents

A new study has shown  that the longer parents lived, the longer offspring are also likely to live.

The research, released on Wednesday by the Medical Research Council (MRC), in London also indicated that children of long-lived parents are more likely to stay healthy in their sixties and seventies.

It is the largest study of its type ever conducted.

The eight year study led by the University of Exeter also involved an international team of academics from the University of Cambridge (UK), UConn Centre on Aging at UConn Health in Connecticut, USA, the French National Institute of Health, and the Indian Institute of Public Health.

The researchers noted that those with longer-lived parents have with much lower rates of heart conditions and some cancers.

They said that the study, funded by the MRC and involving almost 190,000 participants in the UK Biobank, is the largest of its kind.

“It found that chances of survival increased by 17 per cent for each decade that at least one parent lives beyond the age of 70.

“It found evidence showing for the first time that knowing the age at which parents died could help predict risk not only of heart disease, but many aspects of heart and circulatory health,’’ they said.

The researchers disclosed that they used data on the health of 186,000 middle-aged offspring, aged 55 to 73 years, followed over a period of up to eight years.

The team found that those with longer lived parents had lower incidence of multiple circulatory conditions including heart disease, heart failure, stroke, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.

It found that the risk of death from heart disease was 20 per cent lower for each decade that at least one parent lived beyond the age of 70 years.

In addition, those with longer lived parents also had reduced risk of cancer; a 7 per cent reduced likelihood of cancer in the follow-up per longer-lived parent.

It, however, noted that although factors such as smoking, high alcohol consumption, low physical activity and obesity were important, the lifespan of parents was still predictive of disease onset after accounting for these risks.

Dr Janice Atkins, a Research Fellow in the Epidemiology and Public Health group at the University of Exeter Medical School and lead author on the paper, said that the research was intensive.

He said that the research showed that the longer your parents live, the more likely you are to remain healthy in your sixties and seventies.

Atkins said that the study was built on previous findings published by the University of Exeter Medical School researchers earlier this year, which established a genetic link between parents’ longevity and heart disease risk.

Professor David Melzer, Leader of the Research Program, said that it has been unclear why some older people develop heart conditions in their sixties while others only develop these conditions much later in life or even avoid them completely.

He said the research showed that, while avoiding the well-known risk factors such as smoking is very important, there are also other factors inherited from parents.

“As we understand these parental factors better, we should be able to help more people to age well. (Xinhua/NAN)


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