According to two just released studies, a treasure hunt for genes has found that up to three-quarters of people of European descent have DNA that raises their risk for heart disease — and these genes are close to a stretch of DNA linked to diabetes.
People who have the SNP DNA sequence variation cited in the deCODE study had about a 60 percent raised risk for heart attack compared to non-carriers, while people carrying the two SNPs in the Canadian study had a 30 percent to 40 percent increased risk of heart disease.
“I think this is a stunner,” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, told reporters. “It seems like this one place carries all of that weight for two very common and very dangerous diseases.”
What planet are these people from? That genetic factors give predisposition for certain diseases can hardly be considered stunning information. Heck, I’m not a medical doctor, and I said as much over ten years ago in Lessons from the Miracle Doctors. But let’s get real here for a moment. Having a genetic predisposition is hardly a guarantee of disease and doesn’t even qualify as the primary factor. We’ve covered this issue before. Women with the “breast cancer gene” have the same odds of getting breast cancer as women without the gene if they don’t live the same lifestyle as their families.
The biggest problem with the studies is that they compared the odds associated with the SNPs with “known” risk factors such as “smoking” and “high cholesterol.” And even at that, the researchers admitted that when push comes to shove, “The effect (of the genetic material) is less than that of smoking or having a high cholesterol level.” But what about risk factors such as high homocysteine levels, systemic inflammation, and NEFAs resulting from an imbalance of Omega fatty acids? Add in those factors, reassess the odds, and the impact of the studies becomes less than “stunning.”
Make no mistake, genetic material may give you a predisposition, but ultimately when it comes to heart disease (or diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, or osteoporosis, et al), what we do matters far more than what we’re born with.