The heritability of human longevity: A population-based study of 2872 Danish twin pairs born 1870–1900
Subjects in the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council Twin Registry of 31,848 male twin veterans were followed for mortality from 1 January 1946, or from the date of entry into military service if that was later, to 31 December 1978. During this time 3,573 deaths occurred among them, 837 due to trauma and 2,712 due to disease. Mortality from all causes for the entire follow-up period was 10.2% among 11,350 monozygotic (MZ) twins and 11.4% among 14,450 dizygotic (DZ) twins. Mortality of veterans is known to be favorable compared to U.S. males. Among U.S. males of the same ages as the two respective twin zygosity groups, a mortality of 13.9% would have been expected during this time period. Observed mortality from trauma was 2.3% for MZ twins and 2.5% for DZ twins, with 3.0% expected in either group. Observed mortality from all disease was 7.9% for MZ twins and 8.8% for DZ twins, with 10.9% expected in either group. For total mortality, the case twin concordance rates, based on individual deaths, were 28.2% among MZ twins and 17.7% among DZ twins. For trauma, respectively by zygosity, these concordance rates were 6.9% and 3.9%. In this sample, familial factors appear to be of little consequence in trauma deaths. For all disease the concordance rates were 30.1% and 17.4%. Estimating heritability of liability to death from disease, as proposed by Edwards (1969), provides values of h 2=r=0.51 for MZ twins, h 2=2r=0.48 for DZ twins, and h 2=2(r MZ−r DZ=0.54 using data for the two zygosity groups combined.