The science teacher described her sister as more of the creative one than the intellectual one. Abbie has always been more creative than her. The twins were actually separated in school because the teachers feared they wouldn’t make friends due to the fact they were so close, “A twin sister is very similar to two people who are sisters and are very close in age, with the exception that they're inherently a stronger bond--I believe,” said Dunaway.
According to recent studies conducted by the University of Utah, scientists have found that identical twins actually begin to look different as they get older due to something called epigenetics.
Dunaway said she and her sister were very close while they were growing up, but Dunaway thinks in their teen years, their interests changed, “We kind of grew apart in our teenage years where we were like ‘I’m not going to be friends with you because we see each other all the time--and we wanted to be different’,” said the teacher.
Abbie now works as a judicial assistant for the state of Oregon’s court system, while Megan is a high school teacher. Even though they have gone along some pretty different paths, they act more alike than ever. “We’re actually more similar now than we were,” said Megan about her and her sister’s interests. The twins spent 24 years together before they moved away from each other.
Epigenetics is a very large (but recent) study where scientists have revealed new discoveries made about traits and genes, but one study in particular found that the environment a person is in changes the way they look. Because the scientists wanted to prove this theory, they used twins--identical twins.
The University of Utah study focusing on identical twins attempts to explain why they often began to look physically different as they get older. They say this happens because of the effects of one of the many fields of epigenetics-- the environment of the twins shapes their appearance over time.
The scientists say that there are multiple factors that can change the way a person looks: the environment, stress, diet, and the amount of physical activity a person gets changes the way they look.
Ms. Dunaway said that her sister definitely has a better diet, and gets more physical activity. She also said that if people looked at them together, they probably couldn’t tell the difference, but they aren’t the same height and they don’t have the same weight either. In actuality, Abbie has a rounder face, according to her sister.
Abbie and Megan’s diet, amount of stress, physical activity, and other factors have influenced the way that they look today. Megan said that her sister’s rounder face and different height means that they are no longer “identical.”
Lucy Case is a junior at Griswold High School, and she has a father that has an identical twin. They still look very similar today, but not entirely. “I can definitely tell that my uncle has a thinner face,” said Case. Her father has a better diet and gets more physical activity. Her dad is shorter, and that is because he’s been on asthma treatments since he was small.
Lucy’s father is an electrician and her uncle Todd is an accountant at BMCC, “I mean, my uncle always looks pretty sharp and my dad is usually in jeans. Their work (environment) is probably the biggest difference between them,” said Lucy.
In the future, people are hoping that this pioneering study can bring something very useful to the world, and it already has.
Because epigenetics can express certain genes, people are now steps closer to finding a cure for cancer. Scientists hope that with what they have learned about genetics, that they can go in and “turn off” potentially cancerous cells before they mutate.
Scientists are making so many new discoveries that can change the world. What they have discovered with turning off cancerous cells could potentially be huge, and what they have found with twins is also very intriguing. With more work, the scientists will surely bring an advancement to the world of medicine.