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Approved research

Associations between parental attained ages and health status

Principal Investigator: Professor David Melzer
Approved Research ID: 1417
Approval date: June 1st 2013 | Completion date: March 24th 2020

Lay summary

Children of centenarians have lower prevalence of cardiovascular disease and live longer. Our recent work in the US Health and Retirement study (n=6500) showed large reductions in overall mortality in middle aged offspring for each decade their mothers or fathers lived beyond 65yrs. Estimates were little changed adjusting for classical risk factors. There was no effect of the parent's attained age on spouse?s mortality. We showed parental survival associations with lower cancer incidence for the first time, but found no association with arthritis in offspring. We also found evidence of substantially lower rates of cognitive decline in offspring of long lived parents. These analyses suggest a strong intrinsic (probably genetic) influence explaining parent and offspring health advantage during ageing, and might provide a phenotype for understanding why some people suffer from age related disorders in their sixties while others remain disease free into their nineties and beyond. We aim to estimate the associations between the full range of parental attained ages and health status (especially ageing traits) in UK Biobank respondents aged 55yrs and over. Given intergenerational gaps, the 55+ yr olds (estimated 308,000 participants) are more likely to have parents who have lived to very advanced ages. We aim to study parental longevity associations with common diseases in offspring, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, common age related cancers and arthritis. We also want to estimate associations with common genetic variants (SNPs). At present we plan to analyse the baseline (cross-sectional data) plus the data on all cause mortality already collected. We also request later access to data on incidence of our diseases of interest, deaths by cause, plus genetic variant (SNP) data, as these become available. Our aim is to find new ways of delaying or treating age related disease and disability, to help people age well.