Having a twin means you’ve got a built-in buddy at school, a loyal partner in challenging times and a forever sidekick for hilarious hijinks.
But there’s one benefit to twin-hood that’s especially awesome: A longer life.
Twins live longer on average than the rest of the population, according to a study published by researchers at the University of Washington. Their conclusion provides even more evidence that maintaining strong social connections can extend your lifespan, while proving that twins among us have a greater shot at living long, healthy lives.
For the study, researchers reviewed data on 2,932 pairs of same-sex Danish twins that were born between 1870 and 1900 and stayed in Denmark, eliminating any pairs with an individual who didn’t live past age 10. They then compared them to the Danish population at large.
They found that no matter their gender, both fraternal and identical twins have lower mortality rates than the rest of us. The most notable gap for women comes in their early 60s, when twins have a 10 percent advantage over the rest of the population.
Male identical twins have it especially good in their mid-40s: When men reach that age, there’s a six percent mortality advantage for male identical twins compared to non-twin males. In other words, according to the university, if 84 of 100 non-twin males are still alive at age 45, then 90 of their twin counterparts are still alive.
Twins of both genders, but especially males, have each other to thank for protection from risky behaviors. Having a twin means “you’ve got someone watching out for you,” James Anderson, a co-author of the study, told The Huffington Post. He says it’s likely that twins “tend to be more careful, and you might relate that to the fact that you have somebody close you can communicate with.”
But twins aren’t the only ones who benefit from close relationships. Scientists have long recognized that married couples tend to live longer than single people. And keeping a tight-knit network of friends or extended family is shown to boost longevity, too, thanks to feel-good hormones, stress relief and a sense of belonging.
So even if you aren’t a twin, you can still earn an advantage.
“It all relates to having a support system,” Anderson says. “Whatever that system is, it has beneficial effects to your longevity.”
To make sure that their conclusions aren’t specific to one generation of Danish twins, the researchers hope to replicate the study in non-19th century folks.
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