Children of people who live long lives are more likely to have longer lifespans themselves and are less prone to developing cancer and other age-related diseases, a study has found.
Medical experts at the University of Exeter Medical School discovered people who had a mother or father who lived to a ripe old age were 24 percent less likely to get cancer than those whose parents died younger. The scientists defined long-lived mothers as those who survived into their 90s and long-lived fathers as those who lived to see at least their 87th birthdays.
They results showed that overall mortality rates dropped by up to 19 percent for each decade that at least one of the parents lived past the age of 65. For those whose mothers lived beyond 85, mortality rates were 40 percent lower. The figure was only slighly lower for fathers who lived that long.
The study, published in the The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, was based on analyses of records and interviews conducted with 9,764 Americans, who were then followed from 1992 to 2010 — when most were were in their 70s.
"Previous studies have shown that the children of centenarians tend to live longer with less heart disease, but this is the first robust evidence that the children of longer-lived parents are also less likely to get cancer, " said William Henley, from the University of Exeter Medical School.
"We also found that they are less prone to diabetes or suffering a stroke. These protective effects are passed on from parents who live beyond 65 — far younger than shown in previous studies, which have looked at those over the age of 80. Obviously children of older parents are not immune to contracting cancer or any other diseases of aging, but our evidence shows that rates are lower. We also found that this inherited resistance to age-related diseases gets stronger the older their parents lived."
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