Parental longevity and diabetes risk in the Diabetes Prevention Program

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2011 Nov;66(11):1211-7. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glr114. Epub 2011 Aug 17.


Background: Longevity clusters in families, and parental longevity may be associated with lower risk of chronic diseases in their children. It is unknown if diabetes risk is associated with parental longevity.

Methods: We evaluated participants in the Diabetes Prevention Program with a parental history questionnaire at study entry. We classified them into five groups: premature death (parental death at age < 50 years), parental longevity (living to at least 80 years), and three intermediate groups (alive by age 49 but dying at age 50-59, 60-69, or 70-79). Those with alive parents and younger than 80 years were excluded. We analyzed separately effects of paternal (n = 2,165) and maternal (n = 1,739) longevity on diabetes incidence and risk after an average follow-up of 3.2 years.

Results: At baseline, more diabetes risk factors (parental history of diabetes, coronary heart disease, higher body mass index, homeostasis model assessment for insulin resistance, and corrected insulin response) were found in participants whose parents died prematurely. Diabetes incidence was 9.5 cases/100 person-years in the 229 whose fathers died prematurely. In the 618 with paternal longevity, the rate was 6.6 cases/100 person-years (hazard ratio [95% confidence interval] = 0.68 [0.49-0.94]). The rates were 10.7 cases/100 person-years (n = 156) and 7.3 cases/100 person-years (n = 699, hazard ratio = 0.67 [95% confidence interval 0.47-0.95]) for those with maternal premature death or longevity, respectively. Associations with demographic and diabetes risk factors had minimal influence on the reduced risk found in those with paternal (adjusted hazard ratio = 0.78, 95% confidence interval 0.52-1.16) and maternal (adjusted hazard ratio = 0.64, 95% confidence interval 0.41-1.01) longevity.

Conclusion: Parental longevity is associated with lower diabetes incidence in adults at high risk of type 2 diabetes.

Trial registration: NCT00004992.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Children*
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Family Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longevity / physiology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Parents*
  • Risk Factors

Associated data