Updated: Jan 21
By far, the highest percentage of people that come into my clinic for DNA testing is due to their concern over heredity. When someone finds out that a family member has a disease or, even worse, dies from an illness, clients ask me about their risk of having the same outcome due to DNA. Even more saddening are people that undergo surgical procedures preemptively to prevent a disease that they don't have yet, because of family history.
My response to address people’s concerns regarding DNA and health risks is that while DNA provides the base framework of your body, it is your lifestyle and how you take care of your body that determines your risks for disease and impacts on your quality of life. According to the World Health Organization, 60% of related factors to individual health and quality of life are correlated to lifestyle. Problems like metabolic diseases, joint and skeletal problems, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, overweight, violence, and so on, can be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle.
In most cases, your genes have less than five percent to do with your risk of developing a particular disease, according to new research by the University of Alberta scientists.
In terms of impact on health directly from DNA, in the largest meta-analysis ever conducted, scientists have examined two decades of data from studies that examine the relationships between common gene mutations, also known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and different diseases and conditions. And the results show that the links between most human diseases and genetics are less than 5%.
In other words, DNA is not your destiny, and common gene mutations (also known as SNPs) are not predictors of human diseases, per David Wishart, a professor at the University of Alberta's Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of Computing Science and co-author on the study. "The vast majority of diseases, including many cancers, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease, have a genetic contribution of 5 to 10 percent at best."
Wishart and his research collaborators suggest that measuring metabolites, chemicals, proteins, or the microbiome provides a much more accurate measure of human disease risk and is also more accurate for diagnosis. These findings suggest that the value in gene testing should be focused on epigenetics. Epigenetics deals with the characteristics of genes that can be turned on or off, which influences the production of proteins in certain cells.
Therefore, you all have control over your health by controlling the epigenetics of your genes by being aware of your environment and your lifestyle. By being aware of the micro/macronutrients you put into your body, the quality of water you drive, your activity level, and the quality of your sleep will go the furthest to optimize your health.
For more information on how to optimize your health, please feel free to contact the author of his blog at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author: Dr. Jon Dessel, Ph.D., is an Integrative Health Practitioner and nutritionist. He is the President of Luminary Health Centers, a company dedicated to providing personalized, actionable, science-driven information to help others live a healthy, revitalizing lifestyle. Jon's whole-person approach to optimal health continues to push the envelope of health optimization and quality of life bridging the gap between science and well-being.