A new study finds that women who consume animal products, specifically dairy, are five times more likely to have twins than those who do not, and the reason may have to do with the growth hormones fed to cows. Meanwhile, other studies show that identical twins are not as identical as we once thought they were.

A growth protein called IGF is released from the liver of animals and humans in response to growth hormones. IGF circulates in the blood gets into an animal’s milk. When women drink milk or eat meat, the IGF increases ovulation and might also help embryos survive in the early stages of development. The concentration of IGF in the blood is about 13% lower in vegan women than in women who consume dairy.

The percentage of multiple births has increased significantly since 1975, which is about the time when doctors became able to assist women who were having trouble becoming pregnant, by using things such as in-vitro fertilization. But the continuing increase in the twinning rate into the 1990’s may also be due to the introduction of growth-hormone treatment of cows to enhance their milk and beef production.

Pediatrician Gary Steinman found that women who become pregnant while breastfeeding are nine times more likely to conceive twins than women who are not breastfeeding at the time of conception. Also, identical twins are more often female than male, especially conjoined twins.

Meanwhile Robert Roy Britt writes in LiveScience.com that DNA studies show that identical twins are not always identical. For instance, one twin may be susceptible to a certain type of cancer, while the other is not. Since identical twins have identical DNA, it has to be lifestyle differences that account for this.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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