Genes are not in charge of your health

Genes are not in charge of your health

Bert Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who is a prominent cancer researcher, recently finished a very thorough genetic data analysis of 53,666 identical twins from areas all over the world.  Vogelstein and his colleagues looked over the data and then tried to ‘genetically predict’ what diseases they would get.  The genes told them very little.


Twins are great for genetic studies

Identical twins have the same genetic makeup, so looking at one twin’s health history should be reflected in the other twin if genetics are responsible for our health profile.  The researchers used the twin’s medical data to develop a mathematical formula to predict their risks of getting 24 different diseases (diabetes, cancers, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and more).


Almost all their predictions were wrong from genetics alone

For most of the diseases, only a small group of the twins got a positive test result.  Walter Willett, an epidemiologist from Harvard School of Public Health said to Science News that “Basically, you can still do better just by putting somebody on the scales and asking about their smoking history”.  Most people understand that when you smoke you introduce a carcinogen (cancer-causing) into the body, then the reaction that happens genetically, creates cancer to develop in the lungs.  Most people also do not understand that foods do the same thing.  I place genetics at about 15% influence over your health profile.  You have genes but they need triggers to express themselves and guess who controls the triggers?  You do, with your diet, lifestyle and environment; all of which plays a far bigger role than genes, to cause or protect you against disease.

Study by Bert Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, as presented at the 2012 meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research and published online April 2, 2012 in Science Translational Medicine.  As reported in on April 3, 2012.

Posted: Saturday 14 April 2012