21 August 2016
A recent study in PLOS ONE is the first to link birth relationships with life expectancy.
Analysis shows that twins have lower mortality rates for both sexes throughout their lifetimes.
“We find that at nearly every age, identical twins survive at higher proportions than fraternal twins, and fraternal twins are a little higher than the general population,” said lead author David Sharrow, a UW postdoctoral researcher in aquatic and fishery sciences.
Sharrow is a statistician who specialises in demographics and mortality. He and co-author James Anderson, a UW research professor in aquatic and fishery sciences and an affiliate of the U.S.’s UW Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology, discovered from a study they conducted using the Danish Twin Registry, one of the oldest repositories of information about twins.
The authors looked at 2,932 pairs of same-sex twins who survived past the age of 10 who were born in Denmark between 1870 and 1900, so all had a complete lifespan.
They then compared their ages at death with data for the overall Danish population.
“Males may partake in more risky behaviours, so men may have more room to benefit from having a protective other — in this case a twin — who can pull them away for those behaviours,” Sharrow said.
The authors would like to make sure that the findings were replicated in other data sets, to ensure that it’s not just that Danish twins who survived past the age of 10 in the 19th century had other advantages that had the effect of extending their lifespan.
Research shows that these kinds of social interactions, or social bonds, are important in lots of settings,” Sharrow said.
“Most people may not have a twin, but as a society we may choose to invest in social bonds as a way to promote health and longevity,” he noted.
It would be of interest to know, if this hypothesis can be tested in sub-Sahara Africa where neonatal deaths and stillborn are prevalent in order to further substantiate their claim.
The study was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging.
Source: University of Washington.
Author: Dotun Obatuyi
My name is Dotun Obatuyi (Dotunoba), I hail from Osun state, a public health scientist (monitoring and evaluation specialist), my keen interests are researching, critiquing and writing feature articles on health, science and technology as well as issues around the globe.