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Brothers and fathers of men convicted of sexual offences are up to five times more likely to be convicted of sexual offences than men in the general population, a new study shows. Genetic factors were found to make a substantial contribution to this increased risk with the shared family environment having a relatively small influence.

The study, by researchers from Oxford University (UK) and the Karolinska Institute (Sweden), used statistical methods to analyse data on all 21,566 men convicted of sexual offences in Sweden between 1973 and 2009.

The researchers looked at the share of sexual offences perpetrated by fathers and brothers of convicted male sex offenders and compared this to the proportion among Swedish men from the general population with similar age and family profiles. They found that around 2.5% of brothers or fathers of convicted sex offenders are themselves convicted of sexual offences. This compares to convicted sex offenders making up about 0.5% of men in the general population.

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