Children and Grandchildren of Older Dads Live Longer

Men who wait until their late 30s or older to have kids may pass on genetic traits giving their children a longer life, CBS News reported June 12.

Older fathers produce children with longer telomeres (strands of DNA that protect your chromosomes which shorten naturally as you age) than younger fathers, a new study shows. The effect holds across the generations, too, meaning that a paternal grandfather who had your father later in life could pass on this longevity trait to you.

“When we think of adaptation, we tend to think of it happening over hundreds of generations,” says study author Dan T.A. Eisenberg, of Northwestern University. “This study illustrates a means by which much more rapid adaptive genetic changes might occur over just a few generations.”

Not that this effect is immutable, however. Stress and depression can both damage your telomeres, aging you faster and increasing your risk of chronic illness, earlier studies show.

The study appears online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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