Maren and I were born seven minutes apart almost exactly 33 years ago.
I came out first, which I put down to her pushing me out. I even have a birth mark on the side of my bum to prove this theory.
We have pretty much spent our whole lives together and even now I see or speak to Maren – pictured with me celebrating Halloween – every day.
You’d think we would get tired of the same ol’ twin questions everyone asks – but when we meet twins, we ask them too.
We are fascinated by twins, so much so that in our teens we joined the twin research centre at King’s College London, set up by Professor Tim Spector in 1992. It is the UK’s largest adult twin registry with more than 13,000 twins aged 16-100.
Given that we share 100 per cent of our genes, identical twins in particular are necessary for medical research.
All twin members are invited for a full-day visit at the Department of Twin Research based at St Thomas’ Hospital in London every four years.
The visit involves blood tests (including a cholesterol and diabetes check, as well as DNA), bone density, blood pressure, cardiac assessments, simple fitness and sensory tests, eye tests and more.
And your results are posted to your GP – so basically it’s a free health MOT.
In some cases twins are invited to take part in studies and, even though I spend a lot of time in hospitals, I volunteered to spend some more. Yes, I am mad.
Maren and I took part in a study of our systems’ reactions to foods, to predict food responses based on individual characteristics such as gut bacteria.
The study kicked off with a full day at the clinic giving what felt like my weight in blood, followed by two weeks of eating specific breakfasts, logging everything we ate, wearing a glucose monitor and then at the end doing a stool sample, which I had to “pop in the post”.
The idea is that science will predict our responses to food and help everyone discover the best foods for weight and health.
I can’t tell you how great it is to take part in something that is non-cancer related. And you, too, could take part. Even if you’re not a twin, they are still recruiting.
Taking part in research is rewarding. Not least because you learn how to accurately poo on a paper hammock. On that note, see you next week.
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