Experts at the University of Exeter Medical School, led an international collaboration which discovered that people who had a long-lived mother or father were 24 percent less likely to get cancer.
The scientists compared the children of long-lived parents to children whose parents survived to average ages for their generation.
The scientists classified long-lived mothers as those who survived past 91 years old, and compared them to those who reached average age spans of 77 to 91. Long-lived fathers lived past 87 years old, compared with the average of 65 to 87 years. The scientists studied 938 new cases of cancer that developed during the 18 year follow-up period.
The researchers found that overall mortality rates dropped by up to 19 per cent for each decade that at least one of the parents lived past the age of 65. For those whose mothers lived beyond 85, mortality rates were 40 per cent lower. The figure was a little lower (14 per cent) for fathers, possibly because of adverse lifestyle factors such as smoking, which may have been more common in the fathers.
The study has been published in the Journals of Gerontology: Series A.