Centenarian Offspring: Start Healthier and Stay Healthier


Address correspondence to Dellara F. Terry, MD, MPH, Geriatrics Section, Boston Medical Center, 88 East Newton St., Robinson 2, Boston, MA 02118. E-mail: laterry@bu.edu


OBJECTIVES: To assess the relative incidence of age-related diseases in a group of centenarian offspring who have thus far been considered to be predisposed to “healthy” aging.

DESIGN: Longitudinal study.

SETTING: Nationwide sample.

PARTICIPANTS: Four hundred forty centenarian offspring and 192 referent cohort subjects who met inclusion criteria of having initial and follow-up health questionnaire data available. Median age of both cohorts was 72 at the initial health questionnaire.

MEASUREMENTS: Initial health questionnaires were collected from 1997 to 2006. Follow-up questionnaires were collected from 2004 to 2007. The mean period of follow-up was 3.5±1.7 years for the centenarian offspring and 3.9±2.2 years for the referent cohort.

RESULTS: During the follow-up period, centenarian offspring had a 78% lower risk of myocardial infarction (P<.04), 83% lower risk of stroke (P<.004), and 86% lower risk of developing diabetes mellitus (P<.005) than the referent cohort. There were no significant differences in new onset of other age-related diseases. Additionally, centenarian offspring were 81% less likely to die (P<.01) than the referent cohort during the follow-up.

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that centenarian offspring retain some important cardiovascular advantages over time over similarly aged referent cohort subjects. These findings reinforce the notion that there may be physiological reasons that longevity runs in families and that centenarian offspring are more likely to age in better cardiovascular health and with a lower mortality than their peers.