Metabolism, environment, lifestyle are better than genetics at predicting disease risk, study says

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Many diseases have been associated with common gene mutations, or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). But how well do SNPs or SNP combinations predict disease risk? Not very well at all, say scientists based at the University of Alberta. These scientists, led by David Wishart, PhD, the study’s senior author and a professor of biological sciences and computing science, suggest that disease risk could be better predicted by evaluating clinical, metabolite, or protein measures.

“It is becoming increasingly clear,” explained Wishart, “that the risks for getting most diseases arise from your metabolism, your environment, your lifestyle, or your exposure to various kinds of nutrients, chemicals, bacteria, or viruses.”

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Notice that Wishart referred to most diseases. According to Wishart and colleagues, these include many cancers, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. In fact, for such diseases, the genetic contribution to disease risk is just 5–10%. There are diseases, however, for which the genetic contribution is about 40–50%. These diseases include Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and macular degeneration.

Wishart and colleagues derived these findings from the largest meta-analysis ever conducted. Basically, the scientists examined two decades of data from studies that examine the relationships between SNPs and different diseases and conditions.

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Read full, original post: DNA Has Relatively Little Say in Disease Risk (Usually)

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