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People With Long-Living Parents Have a Lower Risk of Diseases

Update Date: May 28, 2013 10:21 AM EDT
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If your parents are living well into their senior years, it could be a very good sign for your health. According to a new study, children of seniors who live long lives are at a lower risk of developing diseases, such as cancer. The researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School in the United Kingdom led an international collaboration that involved experts from Frances' National Institute for Health and Medical Research and experts from the University of Michigan and the University of Iowa. Together, they concluded that children who have at least one parent who lived past the average age were 24 percent less likely to develop cancer.

The research team compared data of children who had parents that lived past the average age to children who had parent that lived around the average age. The data was composed of 9,764 people from the United States who were interviewed for a Health and Retirement Study. The team categorized the data into four groups. The first group was the long-lived mothers who survived past 91-years-old. The other group was composed of mothers who lived until 77 to 91. The third group was the long-lived fathers who reached past 87-years-old. The last group was the fathers who lived until 65 to 87-years-old. During this study, which started in 1992 and ended in 2010, the researchers recorded 938 new cases of cancer.

Based from theses classifications, the researchers concluded that for every extra decade that one of the parents lives through after reaching 65-years-old led to a 19 percent decrease in the mortality rate for the offspring. The morality rates dropped 40 percent for offspring with a mother surviving past 85-years-old. For fathers that lived beyond 85, the mortality rate for their children dropped 14 percent. The study accounted for sex, race, wealth, education, body mass index, childhood socioeconomic status and habits, such as smoking.

"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. We also found that they are less prone to diabetes or suffering a stroke. Obviously children of older parents are not immune to contracting cancer or any other diseases of ageing, 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," Professor William Henley said, reported by Medical Xpress. Henley is from the University of Exeter Medical School.

The National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care in the South West Peninsula supported the research. The study was published in the Journals of Gerontology: Series A.

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