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.
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.
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.
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.
To study twin resemblance for weight change (delta wt) and to assess the consistency of body mass index (BMI) over 6 years.
6 year follow-up based on identical mailed questionnaires in 1975 (baseline) and in 1981 (follow-up).
5967 same-sexed non-pregnant Finnish twin pairs aged 18-54 in 1975 (1106 male and 862 female monozygotic (MZ) and 2430 male and 1569 female dizygotic (DZ) pairs).
Intra-pair correlations of delta wt and BMI, estimates of genetic and environmental components of variance of delta wt and BMI.
Unadjusted mean delta wt was +2.0 (s.d. = 4.6) kg among MZ and 2.1 (4.9) kg among DZ male individuals. Corresponding values among MZ and DZ female individuals were +1.5 (4.4) kg and +1.7 (4.4) kg, respectively. Age and initial BMI together explained 8.0% of the male and 2.3% of the female phenotypic variance of delta wt. The intraclass correlations for delta wt (adjusted for age and initial BMI) for all pairs were 0.29 and 0.07 for MZ and DZ men and 0.25 and 0.05 for MZ and DZ women, respectively. The BMI of the twins increased slightly during the follow-up compared to the baseline values (23.9 (2.7) for MZ and 24.1 for DZ men and 23.0 (3.3) for MZ and 23.2 (3.42) for DZ women). The intra-class correlations for BMI at baseline (0.69 for MZ and 0.34 for DZ men and 0.67 for MZ and 0.29 for DZ women) were almost identical with the correlations at follow-up (0.67 for MZ and 0.32 for DZ men and 0.69 for MZ and 0.29 for DZ women). The intra-class correlations for both BMI and delta wt were consistently higher among pairs living together than among pairs living apart at baseline and at follow-up in both zygosity groups (MZ and DZ). Among pairs living apart at baseline, the longitudinal model for BMI showed that the correlation between genetic effects at baseline and at follow-up was very high (> 0.9 in all age groups among both genders). The correlations for environmental effects ranged from 0.50 to 0.67 during the follow-up period.
Weight changes in adults over a 6-year period appear to be determined by environmental effects rather than genetic factors. However, the genetic component in BMI is considerable and stable over time. Shared environment is likely to contribute to the resemblance of both delta wt and BMI among adult twin pairs, especially among MZ pairs.
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.
Both hereditary and environmental factors are implicated in the aetiology of cutaneous neoplasms. Studies of twins make it possible to estimate the contribution of inherited genes to the development of disease.
To assess the importance of hereditary and environmental factors (including physical environment and lifestyles) in malignant melanoma and malignant nonmelanoma of the skin.
The Finnish Twin Cohort, comprising 25 882 adult like-sexed twins with established zygosity, was linked with the Finnish Cancer Registry to identify malignant skin cancers in a prospective follow-up from 1976 to 1997. Standardized incidence ratios were computed based on national rates.
Sixty twins were diagnosed with melanoma and 49 twins with nonmelanoma during the follow-up. The risks of these cancers did not differ from the risk in the population at large. There was only one pair where both twins had a malignant skin cancer (dizygotic male twins both with squamous cell carcinoma).
The near-total lack of concordance for skin cancer in twin pairs suggests that environmental and not hereditary effects are most important in the causation of malignant skin cancers in a white population with low levels of sun exposure.
The nature of the association between body height and educational attainment found in previous studies remains to be clarified. The aim of this study was to examine factors contributing to this association by using a large Finnish twin data set (8798 adult twin pairs) gathered by questionnaire in 1981. A bivariate twin analysis was used to determine whether the genetic and environmental factors behind body height and educational attainment correlate with each other. A high heritability was found for body height (h2 = 0.78 in men and h2 = 0.75 in women), and a moderate heritability for education (h2 = 0.47 and h2 = 0.43, respectively). Shared environmental effects were also important in body height (c2 = 0.12 in men and c2 = 0.11 in women) and education (c2 = 0.36 and c2 = 0.43, respectively). A high correlation (r(c) = 0.77 in men, r(c) = 0.58 in women) of shared environmental factors education and body height, and weaker correlations (r = 0.11 and r = 0.08, respectively) of unshared environmental factors were found. The correlation of genetic factors between these two characteristics was not statistically significant. The results suggest that the association between body height and education is due mainly to nongenetic family factors.
Birth weight has correlated positively with adult body mass index (BMI), but rarely have birth length, duration of gestation, or parents' body size been taken into account. The authors examined tracking of birth length and weight, adjusted for gestational age, to late adolescence, with special reference to parents' height and BMI. Longitudinal information from a nationally representative sample of Finnish twin adolescents (birth cohorts 1975-1979) and their parents was collected via questionnaires mailed when the twins were aged 16 years (n = 4,376; 2,062 males, 2,314 females) and 18 years (n = 3,917; 1,742 males, 2,175 females). The twins showed significant tracking of body size from birth to late adolescence, which was greatly influenced by their parents' body size. Height in adolescence was predicted by length and weight at birth and by parents' height, whereas BMI was predicted by birth weight and parents' BMI. An especially high risk for overweight was found for subjects of average length but a high weight at birth. These findings suggest that the intrauterine period has enduring effects on later body size but leave unresolved whether these effects are genetic or environmental.
To investigate the risk of cancer in association with magnetic fields in Finnish adults living close to high voltage power lines.
Nationwide cohort study.
383,700 people who lived during 1970-89 within 500 metres of overhead power lines of 110-400 kV in a magnetic field calculated to be > or = 0.01 microT. Study subjects were identified by record linkages of nationwide registers.
Numbers of observed and expected cases of cancer, standardised incidence ratios, and incidence rate ratios adjusted for sex, age, calendar year, and social class--for example, by continuous cumulative exposure per 1 microT year with 95% confidence intervals from multiplicative models for all cancers combined and 21 selected types.
Altogether 8415 cases of cancer were observed (standardised incidence ratio 0.98; 95% confidence interval 0.96 to 1.00) in adults. All incidence rate ratios for both sexes combined were non-significant and between 0.91 and 1.11. Significant excesses were observed in multiple myeloma in men (incidence rate ratio 1.22) and in colon cancer in women (1.16).
Typical residential magnetic fields generated by high voltage power lines do not seem to be related to the risk of overall cancer in adults. The previously suggested associations between extremely low frequency magnetic fields and tumours of the nervous system, lymphoma, and leukaemia in adults and breast cancer in women were not confirmed.
Cites: Br J Ind Med. 1985 Mar;42(3):211-23970890
Cites: Br J Ind Med. 1985 Aug;42(8):546-504016006
Cites: Cancer Res. 1986 Jan;46(1):239-442998606
Cites: Br J Cancer. 1986 Feb;53(2):271-93456788
Cites: Am J Epidemiol. 1987 Apr;125(4):556-613548332
Cites: Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1987;502:43-543310802
Cites: Am J Epidemiol. 1988 Jul;128(1):10-203381818
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.
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.
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.
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.