[Paleopsych] NYT: Outcomes: In Gauging Twins' Health, Follow the Money

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Wed Jul 27 20:50:04 UTC 2005

Outcomes: In Gauging Twins' Health, Follow the Money


    Female identical twins, even when raised together, differ
    significantly in health status depending on the economic class they
    attain as adults, according to research published yesterday in Public
    Library of Science Medicine.

    In a survey of 308 twin pairs, working-class women had higher blood
    pressure and higher cholesterol than their professional twins, and
    their estimates of their own health were consistently lower than those
    of their more affluent sisters.

    Their education, however, had little effect.

    The results applied to both identical and fraternal twins, although
    there was greater variation in health among fraternal twins.

    The findings demonstrate the negative health impact of low
    socioeconomic status in adulthood, said Nancy Krieger, the lead author
    of the study and a professor of society, human development and health
    at Harvard.

    "However much genetic endowment may matter," Dr. Krieger said, these
    results show "that lifetime experiences and exposures tied to social
    class, and not just genes, determine adult health status."

    The authors acknowledge that their research involved only a small
    number of pairs who were working class as adults, and that their
    research recorded no data on birth order, birth weight or details of
    occupational class and income over time. All of those factors, they
    said, could affect the interpretation of their results.

    Still, they assert that their findings add further proof to a large
    body of research showing that chronic exposure to the stresses of low
    economic status can harm health, independent of genetic
    susceptibilities to illness.

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