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New Study: Life Expectancy of Twins Higher Than Rest of Population

According to new University of Washington research based on the Danish Twin Registry, one of the oldest repositories of information about twins, identical twins survive at nearly every age at higher proportions than fraternal twins, and fraternal twins are a little higher than the general population.

The authors looked at 2,932 pairs of same-gender twins born in Denmark between 1870 and 1900 who survived past the age of 10. They then compared their ages at death with data for the overall Danish population. 

For men, they found that the peak benefit of having a twin came in the mid-40s. That difference is about 6 percentage points, meaning that if out of 100 boys in the general population, 84 were still alive at age 45, then for twins that number was 90. For women, the peak mortality advantage came in their early 60s, and the difference was about 10 percentage points. 

A social network can boost health in many ways, lead author David Sharrow, said. Friends can provide healthy outlets and activities, and encourage you to give up bad habits. Just having a shoulder to cry on, a caregiver during an illness, or a friend to vent with can provide material or emotional support that lead to better longevity outcomes.” The authors believe that the special social support which twins share provide them with extra protection similar to the well-documented marriage health benefit. 

While it is unclear whether marriage really makes you healthier, or whether healthier people are just more likely to get married,  “looking at twins removes that effect, because people can’t choose to be a twin,” Sharrow said. “Our results lend support to a big body of literature that shows that social relationships are beneficial to health outcomes. Most people may not have a twin, but may choose to invest in social bonds as a way to promote health and longevity.” 

In other words, even if you do not have a twin – do not despair. Good marriage and good friends can also provide you with a health benefit. Twins just have the good fortune of getting a close friend at birth.

Could the close community and social interactions that exist in the haredi community explain why the religious city of Bnei Brak has the highest longevity of all cities in Israel?


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