Previous twin studies have indicated that approximately 25% of the variation in life span can be attributed to genetic factors and recent studies have also suggested a moderate clustering of extreme longevity within families. Here we discuss various definitions of extreme longevity and some analytical approaches with special attention to the challenges due to censored data. Lexis diagrams are provided for the Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, and Swedish Twin registries hereby outlining possibilities for longevity studies within GenomEUtwin. We extend previous analyses of lifespan for the Danish 1870–1900 twin cohorts to include the new 1901–1910 cohorts, which are consistent with the previous findings. The size of the twin cohorts in GenomEUtwin and the existence of population-based, nationwide health and death registers make epidemiological studies of longevity very powerful. The combined GenomEUtwin sample will also allow detailed age-specific heritability analyses of lifespan. Finally, it will provide a resource for identifying unusual sibships (i.e., dizygotic twin pairs) where both survived to extreme ages, as a basis for discovering genetic variants of importance for extreme survival.
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