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Are You a Byproduct of Your Genes?

Tobacco and Genes

Most modern medical research assumes that inherited genetic predispositions underlie the current epidemics of (non-infectious) diseases and disorders. A partial list includes type II diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autism, various mental illnesses, myopia, and stroke.

This research was originally funded by the tobacco industry’s need to deflect blame that smoking caused lung cancer. Rather, that people got lung cancer from a genetic tendency for cancer rather than smoking. This has become the dominant rational for most mainstream genetic research today.

But what if the premise was flawed?

Researching Research

Research that attempts to justify genetic predispositions for diseases is known as “twin” studies. With this type of research, identical twins are used to determine genetic expression because they have the same genetic code. The rational is that if two people with the same genetic makeup, who are raised in the same environment, will have the same predispositions to genetic-based diseases.

But what if that methodology is flawed and vastly overestimates the genetic contributions to diseases?

What would that mean to health care today?

Are You a Byproduct of Your Genes?

Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson are the principle authors of “The Great DNA Data Deficit: Are Genes for Disease a Mirage?” published in Independent Science News, examines 5 years of studies that link genes to common diseases. The results suggest that genes are not the best predictors of disease nor the best targets for prevention/cure. Coupling this with “Missing Heritability: Hidden Environment in Genetic Studies of Human Behavior”, by Beckwith & Morris-Singer that shows how erroneously attributing environmental influences to genetics can account for the so-called “missing heritability.”

The authors challenge the sweeping assumptions that underpin genetic behavior. Finally, Pearce, in “Epidemiology in a Changing World: Variation, Causation and Ubiquitous Risk Factors”, explores the common environment stressors that are nearly universal, inactivity; diets high in animal products and processed foods; cancer causing chemicals; and radiation exposure, to name a few, and how they are ignored in genetic research.

So what does it all mean? It means that a genetic test that gives you a likelihood of getting disease x, y, or z does not account for your lifestyle and it’s impact on your innate health potential. More attention should be placed on a “cleaner” lifestyle than your genes.

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