Book Chapter

Die Vererbbarkeit der Todesursache - ein "correlated frailty" Modell angewandt auf dänische Zwillinge, geboren 1870-1930

Wienke, A.
The heritability of cause of death - a correlated frailty model applied to Danish twins born 1870-1930
In: Scholz, R. D., Flöthmann, J. (Eds.): Lebenserwartung und Mortalität: Jahrestagung 2002 der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Demographie in Rostock, 81–98
Materialien zur Bevölkerungswissenschaft 111
Wiesbaden, Bundesinstitut für Bevölkerungsforschung (BiB) (2004)


To address questions about genetic influence on susceptibility to cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, diseases of the respiratory system and all cause mortality, data on cause specific mortality for Danish identical (MZ) and fraternal (DZ) twins are used. Data from the Danish Twin Register include 1344 MZ and 2411 DZ male twin pairs and 1470 MZ and 2730 DZ female twin pairs born between 1870 and 1930 and both individuals were still alive on January 1, 1943. The correlated frailty model is used for the genetic analysis of aggregated and cause specific mortality data on twins. Proportions of variance attributable to genetic and environmental factors were assessed using the structural equation model approach. In nearly all considered cases of cause specific mortality the estimates of correlation coefficients of frailty for MZ twins tend to be higher than for DZ twins. Five standard biometric models are fitted to the data to evaluate the magnitude and nature of genetic and environmental factors on mortality. Using the best fitting biometric model heritability for cause of death was 0.28 (0.08) for cancer (AE), 0.53 (0.11) for coronary heart disease (AE), 0.42 (0.10) for stroke (DE), 0.00 (0.00) for respiratory diseases (CE) and 0.58 (0.07) for all cause mortality (AE) for males. Heritability for cause of death was 0.17 (0.05) for cancer (DE), 0.58 (0.14) for heart disease (AE), 0.23 (0.07) for stroke (DE), 0.18 (0.09) for diseases of the respiratory system (DE) and 0.53 (0.09) for all cause mortality (AE). The analysis confirms the presence of significant genetic influence on individual frailty associated with cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, diseases of the respiratory system (the latter for females only) and total mortality. No genetic influence was found for diseases of the respiratory system in males.
Keywords: Denmark, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, causes of death, twins
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