Genetic background inherited from parents heavily influences how long men and women live. Body weight, congenital defects and chronic illnesses are largely influenced by a person's inherited genes and can affect longevity, according to the Annual Review of Medicine.
While human beings can partially control their health through lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise, how bodies interact with outside stimuli is largely determined by inherited genes. Heart disease, the illness responsible for the most deaths of older Americans, is in large part determined by genetics. Cancer, type I diabetes and many other diseases are likewise passed on by parents to their children. All of these factors affect longevity.