How Well Will You Age?



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A new study suggests that how well we age may come from our parents. Individuals that the researchers found whose parents live longer, are more likely to be free of certain heart problems and cancers into their 60’s and 70’s.


Dr. Janice Atkins, lead author of the University of Exeter Medical School in the United Kingdom and her colleagues, have published their results in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. In 2014 the Administration on Aging reported there were 46.2 million people in the U.S. aged 65 and older. This number is expected by 2060 to be more than doubled to around 98 million.

There comes a greater prevalence of age-related diseases with an aging population such as this. More strategies are needed to identify how to reduce the likelihood of such conditions. There are lifestyle risk factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking, that are known risk factors for poor health in older age, according to research from Dr. Atkins. They have focused on how factors inherited from parents may impact healthy aging.

They also published a study in the Journal Aging that found the offspring of parents who live longer are more likely to possess genes that protect them against a number of health conditions. Some of these include high blood pressure, high body mass index (BMI) and type 1 diabetes. They have used those findings to establish a link between parents’ lifespan and disease incidence among offspring.

With parents that have lived longer lives, the offspring has a 20% lower risk of heart disease death.

The team analyzed 286,000 adults aged 55-73 and followed them for up to 8 years. The participants in the study self-reported the lifespan of their parents and their incidence of heart disease and cancer, and the deaths from these were monitored.

When the results were compared with adults whose parents had a shorter lifespan, those with parents that lived longer were less likely to develop a number of cardiovascular-related condition which included heart disease, heart failure, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm). They also found that for every 10 years at least one parent lived after the age of 70 and the risk of death from heart disease among the offspring was reduced by the 20%. The offspring were also less likely to develop cancer. This is the largest study to show that the longer your parents live, the more likely you are to remain healthy in your 60’s and 70’s. Prof. George Kuchel,

This is the largest study to show that the longer your parents live, the more likely you are to remain healthy in your 60’s and 70’s. Prof. George Kuchel, study co-author of the Center on Aging at the University of Connecticut, noted that aging is a major risk factor for chronic diseases such as heart disease, and the team’s findings highlighted the important role our parents play in the development of such conditions.

This information of understanding these parental factors better should be able to help more people age well.

– Dr Fredda Branyon
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