Genetic and environmental effects on mortality before age 70 years.
ABSTRACT There is a familial influence on risk of many diseases and on mortality in general, which, according to studies of twins, is due to a combination of genetic and environmental effects. Adoption studies, which rest on different assumptions, may also be used to estimate separately the genetic and environmental effects on rate of dying.
The genetic influence on the rate of dying before age 70 years was investigated by estimation of the associations in total and cause-specific mortality of Danish adoptees and their biologic full and half siblings. Familial environmental influences shared at the same time in life were investigated in adoptees and their adoptive siblings. The study basis is the 14,425 nonfamilial adoptions formally granted in Denmark during the period 1924 through 1947, recorded in the Danish Adoption Register. From this register we selected the 1552 "case" adoptees (who died before 01 April 1993) and 1710 "noncase" adoptees alive at that date. The siblings of the case and noncase adoptees were traced in the archives and followed forward, and the rates of dying before age 70 years were compared.
Compared with mortality of the biologic siblings of noncase adoptees, the mortality of biologic siblings of dead adoptees was approximately 2-fold higher for death with infections and vascular causes, and around 45% increased for natural causes and for all causes.
The results suggest that there is a genetic effect on the rate of death with infections, vascular causes, natural causes and all causes, whereas there is no indication of an influence of shared sibling environment.
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ABSTRACT: Adoption studies have been used to disentangle the influence of genes from shared familial environment on various traits and disease risks. However, both the factors leading to adoption and living as an adoptee may bias the studies with regard to the relative influence of genes and environment compared to the general population. The aim was to investigate whether the cohort of domestic adoptees used for these studies in Denmark is similar to the general population with respect to all-cause mortality and cause-specific mortality rates. 13,111 adoptees born in Denmark in 1917, or later, and adopted in 1924 to 1947 were compared to all Danes from the same birth cohorts using standardized mortality ratios (SMR). The 12,729 adoptees alive in 1970 were similarly compared to all Danes using SMR as well as cause-specific SMR. The excess in all-cause mortality before age 65 years in adoptees was estimated to be 1.30 (95% CI 1.26-1.35). Significant excess mortality before age 65 years was also observed for infections, vascular deaths, cancer, alcohol-related deaths and suicide. Analyses including deaths after age 65 generally showed slightly less excess in mortality, but the excess was significant for all-cause mortality, cancer, alcohol-related deaths and suicides. Adoptees have an increased all-cause mortality compared to the general population. All major specific causes of death contributed, and the highest excess is seen for alcohol-related deaths.PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(12):e14365. · 4.09 Impact Factor