A new study has examined the health and longevity link between mothers and daughters.
The researchers claimed the way mothers age can in reality reveal deeper hints about what their daughters should expect later in life, including their likelihood of living to age 90 with no major health problems.
The study has been published in the journal Age and Ageing. Researchers at the University Of California San Diego School Of Medicine examined roughly 20 years of data from 22,735 postmenopausal women from the Women’s Health Initiative, a long-term national health study. They found that women have a 25-percent increased chances of living past their ninth decade without serious disabilities or chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.
If both mom and dad maintain their health to age 90, daughters are 38% more likely to do the same. The researchers did not find an increased chance of long life in women when only the father lived to 90 and the study did not observe effect on the sons. The study did not examine the reason why certain people live longer than others.
Good genes can mean a long life
Dr. Orli Etingin, medical director of the Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine said the environment in which a person grew up and their lifestyle choices also play a vital role in their life span. A person who is raised by parents who cooked nutritious meals and exercised regularly, will get that healthy advantage in childhood and will be more likely to continue those good habits into adulthood.
The fact that the study did not find a link exclusively between a dad’s life span and his daughter’s hints that genes may be a stronger influence on longevity than habits imparted in children by parents.
Why you need to know about epigenetics
Dr. Sandra Kaufmann, chief of pediatric anesthesia at the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, says “In the old days, we thought genetics was genetics and environment was environment. Now we know they intersect in a category of epigenetics.”
Kaufmann is also the author of “The Kaufmann Protocol: How We Age and How to Stop It.” According to her; “Your epigenetic programming or how your body decides which genes function and when, adds extra dimension to your health profile.
Kaufmann added that environment, lifestyle, and time in the womb, can all change your epigenetic makeup.
“What the mother did before she was pregnant and while she was pregnant also determines epigenetic coding on a fetus. It’s yet another layer of maternal effect,” she said.
READ ALSO: Simple Ways to Reduce Wrinkles
Etingin added that it may be impossible to control which genes we’re born with, but we can make healthy lifestyle choices like exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, avoiding smoking, and keeping up with doctor’s appointments throughout our lives that can improve our chances of living independently into our 90s, irrespective of mom’s life span.