Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Public Health, 30 September 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2013.00038

Families enriched for exceptional longevity also have increased health-span: findings from the long life family study

  • 1Department of Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  • 2Geriatrics Division, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA
  • 3Department of Epidemiology, Sergievsky Center, Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
  • 4Department of Genetics, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA
  • 5Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
  • 6Social Science Research Institute, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

Hypothesizing that members of families enriched for longevity delay morbidity compared to population controls and approximate the health-span of centenarians, we compared the health-spans of older generation subjects of the Long Life Family Study (LLFS) to controls without family history of longevity and to centenarians of the New England Centenarian Study (NECS) using Bayesian parametric survival analysis. We estimated hazard ratios, the ages at which specific percentiles of subjects had onsets of diseases, and the gain of years of disease-free survival in the different cohorts compared to referent controls. Compared to controls, LLFS subjects had lower hazards for cancer, cardiovascular disease, severe dementia, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, and stroke. The age at which 20% of the LLFS siblings and probands had one or more age-related diseases was approximately 10 years later than NECS controls. While female NECS controls generally delayed the onset of age-related diseases compared with males controls, these gender differences became much less in the older generation of the LLFS and disappeared amongst the centenarians of the NECS. The analyses demonstrate extended health-span in the older subjects of the LLFS and suggest that this aging cohort provides an important resource to discover genetic and environmental factors that promote prolonged health-span in addition to longer life-span.

Keywords: health-span, longevity, onset of disease, survival analysis, Weibull regression

Citation: Sebastiani P, Sun FX, Andersen SL, Lee JH, Wojczynski MK, Sanders JL, Yashin A, Newman AB and Perls TT (2013) Families enriched for exceptional longevity also have increased health-span: findings from the long life family study. Front. Public Health 1:38. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2013.00038

Received: 16 July 2013; Paper pending published: 16 August 2013;
Accepted: 12 September 2013; Published online: 30 September 2013.

Edited by:

Ruihua Xu, National Institutes of Health, USA

Reviewed by:

Luigino Dal Maso, Centro Riferimento Oncologico di Aviano, Italy
Marianne Cockroft, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Copyright: © 2013 Sebastiani, Sun, Andersen, Lee, Wojczynski, Sanders, Yashin, Newman and Perls. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Paola Sebastiani, Department of Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health, Crosstown Center, Room 317, 801 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02118, USA e-mail: sebas@bu.edu

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