Are Members of Long-Lived Families Healthier Than Their Equally Long-Lived Peers? Evidence From the Long Life Family Study
Department of Quantitative Health Sciences
Clinical Epidemiology | Epidemiology | Geriatrics
BACKGROUND: The Long Life Family Study (LLFS) is a multicenter longitudinal study of exceptional survival among members of long-lived sibships (probands), their offspring, and spouses of either group. For these four "roles", we asked: Does membership in a long-lived family protect against disease?
METHODS: We used 2008-2010 Beneficiary Annual Summary Files from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to compare prevalences of 17 conditions among 781 LLFS participants in Medicare with those of 3,227 non-LLFS matches from the general Medicare population. Analyses accounted for nesting within LLFS families.
RESULTS: Seven conditions were significantly less common among LLFS probands than their matches: Alzheimer's, hip fracture, diabetes, depression, prostate cancer, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease. Four diseases not strongly linked to mortality (arthritis, cataract, osteoporosis, glaucoma) were significantly more common for LLFS probands. Despite fewer people and less disease in those roles, LLFS offspring and LLFS spouses of either generation also had significantly lower risk for Alzheimer's, diabetes, and heart failure.
CONCLUSIONS: Common, severe mortality-associated diseases are less prevalent among LLFS probands and their offspring than in the general population of aging Americans. Quality-of-life-limiting diseases such as arthritis and cataract are more prevalent, potentially through more diagnosing of milder forms in otherwise healthy and active individuals. LLFS spouses are also relatively healthy. As the younger cohorts age into Medicare and develop more conditions, it will be important to see whether these tentative findings strengthen.
Rights and Permissions
Citation: J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2015 Aug;70(8):971-6. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glv015. Epub 2015 Mar 5. Link to article on publisher's site
Genetics, Health Services, Longevity, Morbidity, Resilience
The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences
Ash, Arlene S.; Kroll-Desrosiers, Aimee R.; Hoaglin, David C.; Christensen, Kaare; Fang, Hua (Julia); and Perls, Thomas T., "Are Members of Long-Lived Families Healthier Than Their Equally Long-Lived Peers? Evidence From the Long Life Family Study" (2015). University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications. 952.