Data from 16-year-old Finnish twin pairs were used to estimate familial effects on religiosity and the modification of those effects by sex and residential region. The sample of 2265 twin boys and 2521 twin girls formed 779 monozygotic and 1614 dizygotic pairs, 785 of the same sex and 829 of opposite sex. We compared religiosity scores of twins living in more rural and traditional northern Finland with those living in the more urban and secular southern region. Girls had higher religiosity scores than did boys, and twins living in northern Finland had higher religiosity scores than those resident in southern Finland. Correlations for monozygotic twins were slightly higher than those for dizygotic twins, and covariance modeling found modest heritability of religiosity [11% (95% CI 0-24) for girls; 22% (95% CI 6-38) for boys], and substantial shared environmental effects [60% (95% CI 49-69) and 45% (95% CI 31-57)] among girls and boys, respectively. The correlation between shared environmental effects in boys and girls was estimated to be 0.84 (95% CI 0.73-0.99). In analyses distinguishing region of residence, girls living in southern Finland were found to have significantly higher unshared environmental effects than girls in northern Finland, while boys living in the urban south appeared to have lower shared environmental effects, and higher additive genetic effects, than boys living in the rural north.
This study identifies, in genetically informative data, familial and socioregional environmental influences on abstinence from alcohol at age 16.
Data are from FinnTwin 16, a population-based study of five consecutive birth cohorts of Finnish twins (N = 5,747 twin individuals), yielding 2,711 pairs of known zygosity. Measures of alcohol use, embedded into a health-habits questionnaire, were taken from earlier epidemiological research with nontwin Finnish adolescents. The questionnaire was administered sequentially to all twins as they reached age 16. Separate questionnaires, including measures of alcohol use and screening questions for alcohol problems, were received from 5,243 of the twins' parents.
Abstinence from alcohol to age 16 exhibits very significant familial aggregation, largely due to nongenetic influences. Abstinence rates are influenced by socioregional variation, sibling interaction effects and parental drinking patterns. Sibling and parental influences are greater in some regional environments than in others: the relative likelihood that a twin abstains, given that the co-twin does, or that both parents do, is shown to be modulated by socioregional variation.
Environmental contexts affect the likelihood of maintaining abstinence from alcohol to midadolescence, and socioregional variation modulates influences of siblings and parents. The results illustrate how genetically informative data can inform prevention research by identifying target variables for intervention efforts.
The relative roles of genetic and environmental factors in bruxism are not known. In 1990 a questionnaire sent to the Finnish Twin Cohort yielded responses from 1298 monozygotic and 2419 dizygotic twin pairs aged 33-60 years. We used structural equation modelling to estimate genetic and environmental components of variance in the liability to bruxism. There was a significant gender difference both in childhood (P = 0.001) and adult (P = 0.007) bruxism. Females compared to males reported childhood bruxism 'often' 5.2% vs 4.1% and 'sometimes' 17.4% vs 17.3%, and as adults 'weekly' 3.7% vs 3.8% and 'monthly' 3.9% vs 4.6%, respectively. Bruxism in childhood and adulthood is highly correlated (0.86 in males and 0.87 in females). The proportion of total phenotypic variance in liability to bruxism attributed to genetic influences in childhood bruxism was 49% (95% CI 37-60%) in males and 64% (55-71%) in females, and for adults 39% (27-50%) among males and 53% (44-62%) among females. The correlation between the genetic effects on childhood bruxism and the genetic effects on adult bruxism was estimated in a bivariate model to be 0.95 (95% CI 0.94-0.96) in males and 0.89 (0.88-0.90) in females. Bruxism appears to be quite a persistent trait. There are substantial genetic effects on bruxism both in childhood and as adults, which appear to be highly correlated.
Exercise behavior, cardiorespiratory fitness, and obesity are strongly influenced by genetic factors. By studying young adult twins, we examined to what extent these interrelated traits have shared genetic and environmental etiologies. We studied 304 twin individuals selected from the population-based FinnTwin16 study. Physical activity was assessed with the Baecke questionnaire, yielding three indexes: sport index, leisure-time index, and work index. In this study, we focused on sport index, which describes sports participation. Body composition was determined using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and cardiorespiratory fitness using a bicycle ergometer exercise test with gas exchange analysis. The Baecke sport index was associated with high maximal oxygen uptake adjusted for lean body mass (Vo(2max)[adj]) (r = 0.40), with low body fat percentage (BF%) (r = -0.44) and low waist circumference (WC) (r = -0.29). Heritability estimates for the key traits were as follows: 56% for sport index, 71% for Vo(2max)[adj], 77% for body mass index, 66% for WC, and 68% for BF%. The association between sport index and Vo(2max) was mostly explained by genetic factors (70%), as were both the association between sport index and BF% (71%) and that between sport index and WC (59%). Our results suggest that genetic factors explain a considerable part of the associations between sports participation, cardiorespiratory fitness, and obesity.
Leptin is involved in the regulation of body weight, but the relative role of genetic and environmental influences on inter-individual variation in leptin levels is unknown.
To investigate the genetic and environmental contributions to the association of body mass index (BMI) with serum leptin levels, 58 monozygotic (MZ, 27M, 31F), and 74 like-sexed dizygotic (DZ, 32M, 42F) Finnish twin pairs aged 50--76 y were studied.
Serum leptin levels, weight, height, hip and waist measurements.
Women had higher mean leptin levels (16.8+/-9.5 ng/ml), and more overall variability in leptin levels than men (6.4+/-3.5 ng/ml; P
Environmental factors are needed to explain the observed increase in the prevalence of asthma during recent decades, despite the existence of a recognised genetic component in asthma. A co-twin case-control study was undertaken to examine possible social risk factors for asthma.
Asthma diagnoses were based on register data of reimbursed asthma medication. During 17 years follow up of the Finnish twin cohort, 262 twin pairs discordant for incident asthma were identified. Conditional logistic regression for 1-1 matched data was used for risk calculation.
The atopic twin had an increased risk of asthma compared with the non-atopic co-twin (RR 2.91, 95% CI 1.81 to 4.68). The more educated twin had a decreased risk of asthma compared with his/her twin sibling with less education (RR 0.45, 95% CI 0.23 to 0.86), and the twin who participated in conditioning exercise had a decreased risk of asthma compared with the more sedentary co-twin (RR 0.55, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.88).
In addition to allergic diseases, educational level and physical activity are associated with adult onset asthma, which indicates a role for factors associated with life style.
Cites: Eur Respir J. 1999 Jan;13(1):2-410836314
Cites: Int J Epidemiol. 1993 Dec;22(6):976-828144310
This study examined the change in heritability of adult body height across birth cohorts in Finland.
In 1981, cross-sectional questionnaires were completed by 10,968 twin pairs born before 1958. The effect of genetic factors was estimated via genetic modeling.
Heritability increased from the cohort born before 1929 (0.76, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.65, 0.88 in men; 0.66, 95% CI = 0.55, 0.77 in women) to that born in 1947 through 1957 (0.81, 95% CI = 0.73, 0.87 in men; 0.82, 95% CI = 0.75, 0.89 in women).
Heritability of height increased across Finnish birth cohorts born in the first half of this century and leveled off after World War II. Environmental factors, compared with genetic factors, appear to be more important among women than men.
This study examined the stability and change over time in genetic and environmental influences on walking ability among older women. Maximal walking speed over 10 m and 6-min walking endurance test were measured under standard conditions at baseline and 3 years later. At both times, 63 monozygotic (MZ) and 67 dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs were measured for walking speed and 58 MZ and 56 DZ pairs for walking endurance. Participants were twin sisters reared together and aged 63-75 years at baseline. Genetic and environmental influences were examined using longitudinal genetic modelling. The results showed that walking speed was preserved from baseline to follow-up. Genetic influences on walking speed were also similar at baseline (56%) and follow-up (60%). Walking endurance declined from baseline to follow-up, while genetic influences for walking endurance increased from baseline (40%) to follow-up (60%). Most of the genetic influences identified at baseline were also present at follow-up for walking speed (r(g)=0.72) and endurance (r(g)=0.71). In conclusion, among relatively healthy older women, genetic influences on walking speed and endurance were moderate at baseline, while at 3-year follow-up a moderate increment was observed in walking endurance. Newly expressed genetic influences were recognized at follow-up.
The contribution of hereditary factors in basal cell carcinoma of the skin has not been well defined at the population level. We aimed to assess the hereditary component in basal cell carcinoma by comparing its occurrence in monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs. The Finnish Twin Cohort, comprising 12,941 adult, like-sex twin pairs with established zygosity and resident in Finland in 1975, was linked with the Finnish Cancer Registry. We identified 335 twin pairs in which at least one twin had basal cell carcinoma diagnosed between 1953 and 1996. Standardized incidence ratios, concordances, tetrachoric correlations and pairwise relative risks were computed by standard methods. Components of variance in liability were estimated by structural equation modelling. There was an elevated risk of basal cell carcinoma for the co-twin of a diseased twin, but no difference in risk by zygosity. During the prospective follow-up in 1976-96, the probandwise concordance was 7.7% in monozygotic and 7.0% in dizygotic pairs. Model fitting indicated that genetic factors were not needed to account for the distribution of basal cell carcinoma in twin pairs. These results confirm the major role of environmental factors in the aetiology of basal cell carcinoma.
Sleeptalking is usually benign but chronic cases in adults may relate to psychopathology. We hypothesize substantial genetic influences in the liability to sleeptalking and an association between sleeptalking and psychiatric disorders. In 1990 a questionnaire sent to the Finnish Twin Cohort yielded responses from 1298 monozygotic and 2419 dizygotic twin pairs aged 33-60 years. We used structural equation modelling to estimate genetic and environmental components of variance in the liability to sleeptalking. Register data on hospitalization and long-term antipsychotic medication were used to assess psychiatric comorbidity. The occurrence of childhood and adult sleeptalking was highly correlated. A gender difference was only seen in adults, with sleeptalking being more common in males than in females. The proportion of total phenotypic variance in liability to sleeptalking attributed to genetic influences in childhood sleeptalking was 54% (95% CI, 44-62%) in males and 51% (43-58%) in females, and for adults it was 37% (27-46%) among males and 48% (40-56%) among females. An association with psychiatric comorbidity was found only in adult sleeptalking, and it was highest in those with adult-onset sleeptalking (odds ratio, 3.77; 95% CI, 2.32-6.17). Sleeptalking is quite a persistent trait, also being common in adults. There are substantial genetic effects on sleeptalking both in childhood and as adults, which appear to be highly correlated. In adults psychiatric comorbidity is about twice as common in those with frequent sleeptalking, compared to those with infrequent or no sleeptalking, but most cases of sleeptalking are not associated with serious psychopathology.
Like other atopic diseases, hay fever is known to cluster in families. This clustering is due either to effects of a shared family environment or to genetic inheritance. By comparing the occurrence of hay fever among monozygous (MZ) and dizygous (DZ) twin pairs, we were able to estimate the contribution of genetic and environmental factors in the development of hay fever.
A questionnaire mailed to a nationwide sample of 2483 families with 16-year-old twins furnished data for the cumulative incidence of physician-diagnosed hay fever among these adolescents and their parents.
Among the 1765 twin pairs with data available for analysis, hay fever was reported for 14.1% of boys (95% CI=12.4-15.8%) and 10.0% of girls (95% CI=8.6-11.4%). The MZ twin pairs (probandwise concordance rate=60.3%, 95% CI =52-68%) were significantly more concordant for hay fever than were DZ twin pairs (31.5%, 95% CI=26-36%). Genetic factors accounted for 74-82% of the interindividual variability in liability to hay fever, variation in shared family environment for 7% at most, and unique (individual) environment for 18%.
Familial occurrence of hay fever is mainly due to genes predisposing to the trait. Environmental exposures shared in common by family members but varying between families appear to account for at most a modest proportion of the variability in risk of developing hay fever.
We investigated whether BMI predicts type 2 diabetes in twins and to what extent that is explained by common genetic factors.
This was a population-based twin cohort study. Monozygotic (n = 4,076) and dizygotic (n = 9,109) non-diabetic twin pairs born before 1958 answered a questionnaire in 1975, from which BMI was obtained. Information on incident cases of diabetes was obtained by linkage to nationwide registers until 2005.
Altogether, 1,332 twins (6.3% of men, 5.1% of women) developed type 2 diabetes. The HR for type 2 diabetes increased monotonically with a mean of 1.22 (95% CI 1.20-1.24) per BMI unit and of 1.97 (95% CI 1.87-2.08) per SD of BMI. The HRs for lean, overweight, obese and morbidly obese participants were 0.59, 2.96, 6.80 and 13.64 as compared with normal weight participants. Model heritability estimates for bivariate variance due to an additive genetic component and non-shared environmental component were 75% (men) and 71% (women) for BMI, and 73% and 64%, respectively for type 2 diabetes. The correlations between genetic variance components (r (g)) indicated that one fifth of the covariance of BMI and type 2 diabetes was due to shared genetic influences. Although the mean monozygotic concordance for type 2 diabetes was approximately twice the dizygotic one, age of onset of diabetes within twin pair members varied greatly, irrespective of zygosity.
A 28-year follow-up of adult Finnish twins showed that despite high trait heritability estimates, only a fraction of covariation in BMI and incident type 2 diabetes was of genetic origin.
In 1975 and again in 1981, all adult twins in the population-based Finnish Twin Cohort were administered postal questionnaires yielding data on self-reported frequency and quantity of alcohol use. The longitudinal results provide information on the age-to-age stability of social drinking patterns among 13,404 (twin) individuals aged 18 to 43 at baseline; model-fitting the cross-temporal consistency of the twins' reported alcohol use yields unique estimates of the contribution of genetic and environmental factors to their individual age-to-age stabilities. Mean consumption levels did not change between 1975 and 1981. Patterns of social drinking were more stable in older (aged 24-43 at baseline) than younger (aged 18-23 at baseline) adult twins, and were more stable among men than women. Heritabilities were significant at both baseline and follow-up for all three alcohol measures in both genders and both age groups, with a median magnitude of 0.48. Both longitudinal genetic and environmental covariances were significant, and both were generally higher among older pairs. Genetic covariances (median magnitude = 0.68) were significantly higher than environmental covariances (median = 0.36). Analyses of absolute changes in alcohol use revealed heritable influences on the disposition to change. We conclude that genes contribute to both consistency and change in patterns of alcohol use from early to midadulthood.
The problems of differentiation between environmental and genetic influences on the development of multiple sclerosis are well known. Twin studies may provide valuable information on this question. However, most published twin series are selected and no through clinical twin studies based on epidemiologic series have been carried out. In this study, all available same-sex twin pairs with clinically definite multiple sclerosis derived from the Finnish Twin Cohort of 15815 pairs were studied by clinical evaluation, magnetic resonance imaging, and visual and auditory evoked responses. The mean length of follow-up of the pairs after the onset of symptoms of multiple sclerosis was 20 years. Two of the seven monozygotic pairs were concordant; one was definitely so, and in the other, the co-twin of the index case had, in addition to clinical findings, white matter changes suggestive of multiple sclerosis in magnetic resonance imaging and abnormal visual evoked responses. All six dizygotic pairs were discordant. The frequency of the HLA antigen DR2 in probands (69%) was significantly increased, but the distribution among the healthy subjects and patients showed nonsignificant differences. The results indicate a genetic influence on the susceptibility to multiple sclerosis, although still unknown genetic determinants are possible involved.
We studied the cumulative incidence, concordance rate and heritability for diabetes mellitus in a nationwide cohort of 13,888 Finnish twin pairs of the same sex. The twins were born before 1958 and both co-twins were alive in 1967. Data on diabetes were derived through computerized record linkage from death certificates, the National Hospital Discharge Register and the National Drug Register. Records were reviewed in order to assign a diagnostic category to the 738 diabetic patients identified. Of these patients 109 had Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes, 505 Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes, 46 gestational diabetes, 24 secondary diabetes, 38 impaired glucose tolerance and 16 remained unclassified. The cumulative incidence of diabetes was 1.4% in men and 1.3% in women aged 28-59 years and 9.3% and 7.0% in men and women aged 60 years and over, respectively. The cumulative incidence did not differ between monozygotic and dizygotic twins. The concordance rate for Type 1 diabetes was higher among monozygotic (23% probandwise and 13% pairwise) than dizygotic twins (5% probandwise and 3% pairwise). The probandwise and pairwise concordance rates for Type 2 diabetes were 34% and 20% among monozygotic twins and 16% and 9% in dizygotic twins, respectively. Heritability for Type 1 diabetes was greater than that for Type 2 where both genetic and environmental effects seemed to play a significant role.
Based on data in the Finnish Twin Registry, which was obtained by postal questionnaire, the prevalence of chronic bronchitis among non-smoking farmers was 3.6% and among a corresponding group of non-farmers (reference subjects) 3.4%. The six-year incidences of chronic bronchitis for these 2 groups were 2.7% and 0.7%, respectively. The difference in incidence between these groups was significant (p less than 0.001). The fact that the incidence among farming subjects was three times the incidence among non-farming subjects indicates that chronic bronchitis is a work-related disease among farmers. This is analogous to previous findings that symptoms compatible with chronic bronchitis occur more often among grain elevator workers than among urban dwellers. The occurrence of chronic bronchitis among both farmers and grain elevator workers probably is associated with exposure to grain dusts.
Eighteen pairs of monozygotic twins discordant for long-term occupational exposure to organic solvents were examined for disturbances of cardiovascular reflexes. All of the subjects were asymptomatic, and considered themselves healthy. No significant differences were observed between the exposed and the nonexposed twins. The finding suggests that occupational solvent exposure at these particular levels is unlikely to cause disturbances of the autonomic nervous function.
Some health related psychosocial correlates of the Eysenck neuroticism scale were examined in a questionnaire study of 1501 monozygotic (MZ) and 3455 dizygotic (DZ) male twin pairs representing the adult male twin population in Finland. In analyses of the individuals, 34% of the variance in neuroticism was associated to: psychological variables (stress of daily activities, life satisfaction, quality of sleep, and extroversion - the explanatory rate of this variable set was 30%), psychotropic drugs (5%), alcohol use (4%), and smoking (2%). Neuroticism was also associated to social, life change, and medical variables. In pairwise analyses, the heritability estimate (h2) was 0.54 for pairs living together and 0.39 for pairs living apart. It seems that heritability estimates are confounded by the closer intrapair relationship between members of MZ than DZ pairs. In pairwise analyses, 23% of the intrapair difference of neuroticism in MZ pairs was associated to intrapair differences in the aforementioned variables. The following explanatory rates were found: psychological variables, 21%; psychotropic drugs, 2%; alcohol use, 2%; and smoking, 1%. Neuroticism of pairs discordant for background variables showed similar intrapair differences as between individuals in the following variables: service vs farming work, use of alcohol, use of antacids, hypertension, heavy physical work, quality of sleep, changes of workplace for negative reasons, smoking, and use of tranquillizers. It appears that in Finland environmental factors explain at least 61% of the variability in neuroticism, and that factors determining neuroticism are also associated to health related behavior such as smoking, use of alcohol and psychotropic drugs.
Finland has a higher mortality overall and for major causes of death than Sweden, primarily in men. The objective of this study was to analyse mortality in migrants from Finland to Sweden.
A longitudinal study based on the Finnish Twin Cohort Study. Information about migration from Finland to Sweden, duration of stay in Sweden for the migrants, and deaths 1976-1995 was obtained from national registers. Observed numbers of deaths in migrants were compared with expected numbers based on the age standardised mortality experience of the Finnish Twin Cohort. First deaths in migrants and non-migrants of migrant discordant pairs were compared controlling for genetic and early childhood factors.
Twin pairs of the Finnish Twin Cohort Study where at least one twin had migrated to Sweden (1542 twin pairs).
Among men, migrants from Finland to Sweden showed an overall similar mortality compared with all subjects of the Finnish Twin Cohort (SMR 1.1; 95% CI 0.9 to 1.4). Mortality from non-violent causes was increased for migrants with at most 20 years in Sweden (SMR 1.9; 95% CI 1.2 to 2.6) and decreased in those with a longer stay (SMR 0.7; 95% CI 0.4 to 0.9). Similar results were obtained concerning first deaths in twin pairs discordant for migration. Among women, migrants had an increased mortality overall (SMR 1.4; 95% CI 1.0 to 1.8), from cardiovascular disease (SMR 1.7; 95% CI 1.0 to 2.7), and from violent causes (SMR 2.5; 95% CI 1.2 to 4.6) compared with all women of the Finnish Twin Cohort. In analyses of migrant discordant pairs only first deaths from cardiovascular disease tended to be more common in the migrants than in non-migrant co-twins.
Migrants from Finland to Sweden seem to have an overall mortality comparable to that prevailing in Finland suggesting no strong influence on mortality by the migration. Duration of stay seems to be associated with mortality in the migrants, at least in men, with a lower mortality after several years in Sweden.