Heritability of Longevity and the Role of Early and Mid-Life Environments

Heidi Hanson, Huntsman Cancer Institute
Sandra Hasstedt, University of Utah

While it is widely accepted that life-span is determined by a combination of genetic, social and physical environment, and stochastic factors, the interdependent and dynamic role of genes and environment is still not well understood. This study has two main goals: 1) estimate the heritability of life-span after age 30 and the heritability of exceptional longevity; 2) test for differences in heritability estimates of longevity in populations stratified by environmental exposure. Using methods designed for multigenerational pedigrees and information from the Utah Population Database, a rich source of linked population-based information, we can compare the heritability of longevity across childhood environments. Our sample consists of 20,120 individuals from 802 three generation pedigrees. Our findings support previous studies suggesting a moderate heritable component to longevity that increases with age. We find some evidence that socioeconomic status and environments marked by high childhood mortality affect the heritability of longevity.

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Presented in Session 134: Biodemography, Health, and Mortality