Does the longevity of one or both parents influence the health status of their offspring?

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Abstract

According to the findings of some recent studies, the centenarians' offspring appear to represent a promising model for research on longevity and healthy aging. This study compares the health status and the functional status of three groups of subjects: 1. individuals with two long-lived parents (one of whom centenarian), 2. individuals with only one long-lived (centenarian) parent, and 3. individuals with no long-lived parents.

The goal is to verify whether the centenarians' offspring display any advantage over the offspring of both non-long-lived parents and to evaluate whether the longevity of the non-centenarian parent provides a further advantage. A total of 374 subjects (mean age approximately 70 years) was examined. A threshold for longevity was established for non-centenarian parents through demographic data available for Italy (males surviving to at least 81 years of age and females to 87 years). The participants were assessed for their health and functional status by means of a standardized questionnaire and tests of physical performance. Data were analyzed using multivariate regression models adjusted for socio-demographic characteristics and risk factors for age-related pathologies.

The results of the study show that centenarians' offspring have a better functional status, a reduced risk for several age-related pathologies and reduced drug consumption than the offspring of non-long-lived parents. In addition, the health status of centenarians' offspring does not appear to be influenced by the longevity of the second parent. It therefore seems possible to conclude that at ages around 70 years the genetic contribution to health status deriving from having one centenarian parent is not substantially improved if the other parent is also long-lived.

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