Older Moms Linked to Longer Lives
If a woman in your family gave birth naturally relatively late in life, that may bode well for longevity running in the family, according to new research.
Previous studies have found that women who remain fertile into their 40s and 50s tend to live longer than other women. The new study, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences, found that their brothers also live longer, suggesting that the same genes prolong longevity and fertility.
Ken Smith of the University of Utah and his colleagues studied data from the Utah Population Database at the University of Utah, which has records of 1.6 million Utah Mormon pioneers and their descendants. They also used the the University of Montreal's Program on Demographic History Research, which has records on 400,000 people who lived in heavily Catholic Quebec between 1608 and 1850. (Researchers used the historical sources because of the high quality and breadth of the data.)
The researchers focused on the records of 11,604 Utah men who were born between 1800 and 1869 who had at least one sister who lived at least to age 50 and 6,206 Quebec men who lived between 1670 and 1750 and had at least one sister who lived to age 50 or older.
They found that women who gave birth at age 45 or older were 14 percent to 17 percent less likely to die during any year after age 50 than women who did not deliver a child after age 40, which is consistent with previous studies.
But the researchers also found that brothers who had at least three sisters, including at least one sister who give birth at age 45 or later, were 20 percent to 22 percent less likely to die during any year after age 50 than brothers who had no sisters who remained fertile until late in life. They found no increase in lifespan among the men's wives, indicating that heredity was playing more of a role than something in the environment.
That indicates that the same genes may influence lifespan of both sexes and women's ability to give birth to older ages, the researchers say.
Is this a phenomenon you've noticed in any of your families?
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