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Women’s Chances of Long and Healthy Lives Affected by Parental Lifespan

WOMEN are 25% and 38% more likely to enjoy long and healthy lives if either their mother or both of their parents, respectively, live to at least the age of 90 years, according to a study from the University of California San Diego, California, USA. No such association was found if only their father and not their mother lived to this age.

It is hoped these findings will provide the basis for a greater understanding of how lifestyle factors and genes influence the chances of achieving longevity, whilst simultaneously avoiding conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, hip fractures, or other debilitating disabilities.

“Public Health Priority”

“Achieving healthy ageing has become a critical public health priority in light of the rapidly growing ageing population in the USA. Our results show that, not only did these women live to the age of 90, but they also aged well by avoiding major diseases and disabilities,” stated first author Dr Aladdin Shadyab, UC San Diego. “It’s not just about the number of candles on the cake. These women were independent and could do daily activities like bathing, walking, climbing a flight of stairs, or participating in hobbies they love, like golf, without limitations.”

The team now want to better understand how the environment and behaviours passed to offspring in combination with genetics determines the chances of healthy ageing from generation to generation. This study showed that women whose mothers lived to at least 90 years were, at baseline, more likely to be college graduates, have physical activity and a healthy diet incorporated into their lives, and be married with high incomes.

Further Studies

Dr Shadyab added: “We now have evidence that how long our parents live may predict our long-term outcomes, including whether we will age well, but we need further studies to explore why. We need to clarify how certain factors and behaviours interact with genes to influence ageing outcomes.”

The research used information from around 22,000 postmenopausal women participating in a large American national study investigating major risk factors for chronic diseases amongst women. Therefore, there was no analysis on the effect of parental lifespan on healthy ageing in men. A limitation of the study was that no data were included on the health or causes of death amongst the participants’ parents.

 

James Coker, Reporter

For the source and further information about the study, click here.