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Double trouble as twins tackle health research

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January 21, 2019 by admin

Lachlan and Ewan Lewis (left), Emma and Lucy Howard and Luke and Rohan Whitby.ANGELA King is counting down the days until her identical twin sister Elena Gatt has a knee operation because she knows it will mean an end to the constant pain she feels in her knee.
Nanjing Night Net

At the exact moment Elena hurt her knee while on holidays in London last April, Angela experienced excruciating pain and was stopped in her tracks as she and her husband walked along a Melbourne street.

”I knew to contact my sister because it could have been the only explanation,” Angela said.

”Now I can’t wait for her to have the surgery because I know that my pain will not go away until that happens.”

But the 57-year-old Melburnians are used to experiencing the other’s pain and suffering.

When Elena was pregnant, for instance, it was her twin sister – who was not pregnant – who experienced shocking morning sickness.

And when Angela had her tonsils out when they were young, Elena screamed at the exact moment they were removed. While Angela recovered from the operation immediately, Elena took days to get over a sore throat – despite being almost 300 kilometres away and not being told that her sister had just had a throat operation.

The sisters are among about 40,000 voluntarily registered twins with the Australian Twins Registry – the largest of its kind in the world – who are helping medical researchers better understand the impact of nature and nurture.

Statistics show about 2 per cent of the Australian population are twins, around one-third of whom are identical and the other two-thirds non-identical, or fraternal.

Dr Jeff Craig, who leads the Early Life Epigenetics Group at Melbourne University’s paediatrics department, said studies of twins enabled researchers to determine to what extent medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and epilepsy were influenced by genetics or environmental factors. ”I believe that studies of human health should always start with twins before we then work out what applies to the rest of the population,” he said.

Registry participants have taken part in more than 450 research studies into a wide range of medical conditions, including foot bunions, which have long been thought to have been genetic. But Elena and Angela are proof that this might not be the case, as only one of them has bunions.

On Wednesday, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark – mother of two-year-old twins Vincent and Josephine – became joint patron of the Australian and Danish twins registries.

Among the many twins at the announcement were identical twins Grace and Amber Harli, 18, from Belgrave, who said they were often asked what it was like being a twin.

”It’s good in some respects, such as the wardrobe sharing and the fact you always have a wing-man, but bad in others because we’re constantly compared to one another in terms of who’s taller, who’s better at sport, who’s smarter and things like that,” Grace said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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