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Friends share genetic similarities

| | July 16, 2014

This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, “You’ve got a friend in me.”

A new study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science suggests friends may be more than just people you lean on when you’re not strong; they might actually help you carry on — genetically speaking.

“Looking across the whole genome, we find that on average, we are genetically similar to our friends,” said James Fowler, coauthor of the study and professor of medical genetics and political science at UC San Diego. “We have more DNA in common with the people we pick as friends than we do with strangers in the same population.”

Over the past decade, Fowler and coauthor Nicholas Christakis, professor of sociology, evolutionary biology and medicine at Yale, have studied the science behind social networks. They’re seeking a biological explanation behind some long held social notions.

“We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘Birds of a feather flock together,’ but we want to know why,” Fowler said.

“We have found that we share about 1% of our genes with our friends,” said Fowler. “On average our studies indicate we are as genetically similar to our friends so much as we are our with our fourth cousins or people who share great-great-great grandparents.”

Read the full, original story: We’re genetically linked to our friends

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