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Friday, February 02, 2007

Inbreeding Can Be Healthy

Residents of the tiny town of Stoccareddo, Italy, eat all the bad stuff that doctors warn us about. But they rarely develop heart disease or diabetes, and often live into their 90s. What's their secret?

While at first glance nothing seems to be unusual about the town, a closer look reveals almost everyone is related and shares the same last name of Bau (pronounced Bow-ooh). According to Amerigo Bau, the unofficial town historian, the first Bau family arrived in Stoccareddo from Denmark about 800 years ago and ever since, Baus have been marrying Baus.

"It happened because the town was in the mountains," explains Amerigo Bau. "It was isolated, and so the likelihood of marrying another Bau was quite strong."

Most Baus tended to marry more distant relatives and not first cousins, which can cause genetic defects. [Link]

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