Research interests

Even though the MTR has only recently started, the data collected has led to some preliminary results and to projects getting underway. Some of these are presented below:

Body Mass Index (BMI)

  • Approximately 70% of differences found in BMI are due to genetic factors. These results agree with data from other European and American samples.
  • Number of pregnancies affects BMI. A higher number of pregnancies implies a progressive increase of BMI. This is probably due to the retention of weight accumulated after each birth. The impact of genetic factors on BMI seems to be the same whatever the number of pregnancies.
  • Physical activity moderates the genetic influence on BMI. The degree of physical activity moderates the effects of genetic factors on BMI. That is, physical activity seems to reduce the genetic influence on the risk of developing a high BMI. This would mean that people at higher genetic risk for developing obesity would find more benefits in physical activity.


  • There are genetic factors that influence the decision of whether to breastfeed or not. Breast-feeding is of utmost importance in the history of human evolution. Due to its importance for the survival of our species, it seems logical that, throughout evolution, some genetic constitutions that favour breast-feeding could have been selected (milk ejection, hormonal response, establishment of the link with the baby…).

Breast cancer prevention

  • Preventive behavior is influenced by genetic factors. Especially in women under 50. Having a mammogram screening depends on a great number of factors, some of which depend on genotype.

Perceived health

  • Regardless of the objective health condition, there are factors that influence the feeling of being more or less healthy. Even if the objective health status is the same, not everybody feels equally healthy or unhealthy. Some people feel better and other feel worse. Among other factors, genetic ones seem to contribute to this perception. And this perception influences, for example, the use of health services, how frequently people go to the doctor or the search for alternative therapies.

Current research topics

Today, while the database is being extended, the MTR has information available for research. Below is a summary of the main variables of interest:

  • Sociodemographic data: Age, sex, place of residence, marital status, family history, education, occupation
  • Zigosity: Determined by a questionnaire and DNA
  • Anthropometric data: Eyes and hair colour, laterality, height, weight, Body Mass Index, percentage and distribution of fat mass
  • Health – related quality of life: Perceived health, health-related quality of life (EQ-5D), activity limitation
  • Menopause: Age at menopause, menopause-related quality of life
  • Preventive and health behaviour: General health worry, general preventive activities, attendance to mammogram screening, breast self-exam
  • Health-related behaviour: Nutrition habits, overweight perception, sleep quality
  • Life styles: Smoking, alcohol consumption, sedentary lifestyle, physical activity
  • Reproductive history: Age of menarche, motherhood, breast-feeding
  • Medical history and use of health services: Main illnesses, use of services, prescription drug use
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Biological sample: DNA

By the end of 2013 the MTR will also have new data collected in different projects about:

  • Chronodisruption
  • Obesity and low-back pain
  • Smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Identification and differentation between twins
  • Health and personality