Largest US Twin Study Probes Whether Nature or Nurture Makes Us Sick

January 18, 2019

(The Verge) – Data from a private insurance company has given scientists a new way to study whether nature or nurture matters more when it comes to staying healthy in the face of disease. Though the answer isn’t definitive or exact — it varies according to each of the 560 diseases that were studied — the technique holds promise for bringing more insights in the future. The traditional way of studying nature versus nurture relies on twins. Because identical twins share the same genetic code, comparing the health of twins can help determine whether genetic or environmental factors play more of a role in their health. Problem is, it can be hard to find many pairs of twins, so most twin studies use small datasets and look at one disease at a time. The new study, published this week in Nature Genetics, uses a database of 45 million people, including over 56,000 pairs of twins.

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