WHY STUDY TWINS?
Twins are an invaluable resource to health-related research. Studying twins enables scientists to learn more about how a person’s environment (lifestyle, diet, exposures, family, peers, parental behaviors) and their genetics (DNA) have an impact on certain diseases and conditions. This allows scientists to study the causes and contributing factors of health conditions. Without twins, this type of research would be nearly impossible to conduct. Researchers can use the information they gain to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of many health issues that can affect both twins and non-twins.
How can researchers learn all of this from studying twins? The answer lies in part because of how uniquely similar twins are in certain aspects of their life. For instance, identical twins share all the same hereditary material (genetics), so many differences between them can be attributed to factors in their environment. Fraternal twins, on the other hand, only share about half of the same genetic material, but, like identical twins, share a similar environment growing up. Many differences between fraternal twins can be attributed to the differences in their genetics. By comparing the differences and similarities in identical and fraternal twins, scientists are able to determine how certain environmental and genetic factors impact health.
Through their participation in our research, MATR twins and their families provide valuable information to researchers. This information is then used to improve the health of society as a whole. Please note that not all participants in our studies have the disease or condition being investigated. Research requires a comparison of subjects; including those that have the condition and those that do not have the condition of interest. This method helps determine why some people get a disease or condition and others do not.