Genes vs. environment

Here are some excerpts from an article about nature vs. nurture written by Andre Picard in the Globe and Mail today:
“Your genes do not – except in rare cases – condemn you to heart disease, or protect you from its ravages.
Rather, the environment you live in, your lifestyle choices and the treatments you take can override genetic predispositions, one of the country’s top researchers says.
‘Environment often trumps genetics,’ Robert Hegele, director of the cardiovascular genetics laboratory at the Robarts Research Institute in London, Ont., said yesterday.
……He said about 5 per cent of people are ‘exquisitely susceptible’ to heart disease because they have a genetic mutation.
At the other end of the scale are people who do seemingly everything wrong – smoke, drink, eat badly, remain inactive – and live well into their 90s in seeming good health. He pointed to former British prime minister Winston Churchill as a poster boy for this group.
However, Dr. Hegele said, the other 90 per cent of the population ‘fall somewhere else on the bell curve’ and they have a lot more control over their heart health than they realize.
…… ‘While genetic testing is increasingly providing valuable information, clinicians and patients themselves already have the tools to act,’ he said. ‘No matter what all the high-tech stuff reveals, the answers are still simple for most people.
Those simple things include classic lifestyle choices, such as not smoking, eating a healthy diet and regular physical activity. Not-quite-so-simple matters like a person’s income, education, housing status and physical environment matter too,’ Dr. Hegele said.”
In other words, if your ancestors all died of heart disease, it could be the gene that was transferred down the line, but the disease could also have been caused by the lifestyle choices and attitudes that were learned from parents and other family members.
I think it’s important to take a look at the choices we’re making so we’re not just doing things because they’ve always been that way. These choices form our environment to a certain extent for good or bad and it takes awareness to change them if they need improvement.
Listen to your gut when making decisions as the issues are complex and you have to do what’s right for you.


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