A meta-analysis of data going back 50 years found that 49% of the variation for human traits and diseases could be blamed on genetics, while 51% were due to environmental factors.
University of Queensland research fellow Dr Beben Benyamin and a team from the VU University of Amsterdam analysed studies of more than 14.5 million twin pairs across 17,804 traits from 2,748 publications.
Benyamin said he was surprised by how similar an influence each aspect had.
“Most of the reviews have been for specific traits, like people are interested in studying one particular disease and review all the twin studies for one disease,” he told the media. “But this is I think is the first one to review everything about all disease and all twin studies that are available at the moment.”
He said the study showed that the influence of nature and nurture should be understood as a complex interplay rather than a simple either/or.
“The findings show that we need to look at ourselves outside of a view of nature versus nurture, and instead look at it as nature and nurture,” he said.
His research was published in Nature.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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