Saturday 11 July 2020

Living to a ripe old age may be down to your mother, Dutch scientists say

People who live to a ripe old age have their mothers to thank for it, according to new research by Dutch scientists at Leiden University.

Molecular epidemiologist Eline Slagboom and PhD student Niels van den Berg have been monitoring 421 families of which various members lived way beyond the age of 90.

‘A new analysis of these extremely long-lived persons, their siblings, and parents now shows that longevity in these families is passed on mainly through the mother,’ the researchers said in a statement.

An explanation for this, the scientists say, is that these healthy mothers produce healthy babies. The fact that the fathers play no role strengthens the supposition that longevity is linked to mitochondrial dna which, unlike other dna, is only handed down by the mother.

The results bring the ‘holy grail’ of unravelling the secrets of a long life a little nearer, the researchers say.

‘We now know even more precisely whose genes we need to map in order to find out why some people survive into extreme old age but also, and above all, why they age healthily,’ Slagboom said.

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