A new analysis of data from more than 55,000 people provides an answer. It finds that by living right — by not smoking, by exercising moderately and by eating a healthy diet heavy in fruits, vegetables and grains — people can tamp down even the worst genetic risk.
“DNA is not destiny; it is not deterministic for this disease,” said Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, the director of the Center for Human Genetic Research at Massachusetts General Hospital. “You do have control over the problem, even if you have been dealt a bad genetic hand.”
The investigators found that genes can double the risk of heart disease, but a good lifestyle cuts it in half. Just as important, they found, a terrible lifestyle erases about half of the benefits of good genetics.
Dr. Michael Lauer, a cardiologist…at the National Institutes of Health and was not involved in the analysis, called the study impressive. Its subjects were from four large studies, yet the results were consistent and convincing…That sort of research, he said, “is not something we see very often, and certainly not with this degree of rigor.”
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