About the speaker
Kaare Christensen, MD, PhD, DRMSC, is Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Southern Denmark and Senior Research Scientist at the Terry Sanford Institute, Duke University, North Carolina, USA. Christensen is the Director of the Danish Twin Registry and the Danish Aging Research Center. He has conducted a long series of studies among twins and the oldest-old in order to shed light on the importance of genes and environment in aging and longevity. Furthermore, he has a longstanding interest in the relation between early life events and later life health outcome.
About the presentation
Offspring of Danish long-lived siblings as well as their spouses and their children have lower mortality than the background population—a health advantage across three generations. To understand the mechanisms underlying this familial transmission of exceptional health and survival we assessed through nationwide Danish registers socio-economic characteristics of these families through the 20th century and all hospitalizations and causes of death since the 1970s. Comparisons of long-lived siblings and their offspring and grandchildren to the background population and spouse controls revealed consistently lower occurrence of almost all disease groups in the offspring and grandchildren of long-lived siblings. Avoidance of specific diseases did not run in families; the longevity-enriched families have a general health advantage. Pathology increases with age in these families but less than in the controls. Studies of multi-generation longevity-enriched families can deepen understanding of the diversity of the fundamental physiological process of aging.