Does having grandparents who had a long life mean you will live to a ripe old age as well?

Misao Okawa, the world’s oldest Japanese woman poses for a photo with her great-grandchild Himaki and grandchild Takako Okawa on her 117th birthday celebration on March 4, 2015, in Osaka, Japan. Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images

If you think your chances of living to a very old age are improved because your grandparents had long lives, science now has some evidence that you could be right.

Research shows that diseases which can be fatal are less prevalent in the families of the long-lived than in the general population.

The insight comes from the Long Life Family Study, an international collaborative study of the genetics and family components of exceptional survival, longevity and healthy ageing.

The researchers found that seven conditions are significantly less common for siblings in a long-lived family: alzheimer’s, hip fracture, diabetes, depression, prostate cancer, heart failure and chronic kidney disease.

However, the siblings were more likely to be receiving care for arthritis, cataract, osteoporosis and glaucoma.

Spouses, offspring and offspring spouses of the long-lived relatives shared in the significantly lower risk for Alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart failure.

Both genetic and environmental factors appear to be in play.

The research was announced in the Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Medical Sciences, published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America.

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