Does Parental Longevity Predict How Long We Live?

Those of us with parents who are living long and rich lives tend to assume that we have inherited their genes and therefore possess the capacity to live at least almost as long.

However, a recently published study in the Journal of Internal Medicine, published by the Karolinska Institute (a Swedish NIH), questions that assumption. The study, Factors Associated with Reaching 90 years of age: A Study of Men born in 1913 in Gothenburg Sweden (abstract), describes in-depth research of men, starting at age 50. The researchers hoped to identify, or at least associate, factors that predict reaching the age of 90.

Men born in 1913 were systematically selected (in this case men who were born on dates divisible by three) at age 50 to be a part of the study. Beginning in 1963, the study followed and regularly examined 855 men. The  parental history and lifestyle of each man were followed and medical exams given. Further clinical monitoring occurred when each participant was 54, 60, 67, 75 and 80.

One hundred and eleven men, or about 13%, reached the age of 90. The advanced age of a parent was not especially associated with offspring reaching a similar age. The most significant factors associated with reaching age 90 include:

  • Having low blood pressure
  • Being a non-smoker
  • Consuming small amounts of coffee
  • Having high housing costs at age 50

Age may not be an inherited gift. Read Lifestyle Affects Life Expectancy More than Genetics at the ScienceBlog for another description of the research.

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