Objectives: To determine whether offspring of centenarians acquired protection from age-related diseases.
Design: Case-control study.
Setting: The study was part of the Longevity Genes Project at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Participants: Centenarians (n=145), offspring of centenarians (n=180), and spouses of the offspring of centenarians (n=75) as a control group. Two additional groups served as controls: age-matched Ashkenazi Jews, and an age-matched control group from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Measurements: Self-reported family history of longevity; prevalence of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart attacks, and strokes; and objective measurements of body mass index and fat mass.
Results: Parents of centenarians (born in approximately 1870) had a markedly greater ( approximately sevenfold) "risk" for longevity (reaching ages 90-99), supporting the notion that genetics contributed to longevity in these families. The offspring of long-lived parents had significantly lower prevalence of hypertension (by 23%), diabetes mellitus (by 50%), heart attacks (by 60%), and strokes (no events reported) than several age-matched control groups.
Conclusion: Offspring of centenarians may inherit significantly better health. The authors suggest that a cohort of these subjects and their spouses is ideal to study the phenotype and genotype of longevity and its interaction with the environment.