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“Disease Causation: Is it Genetic or Environmental ?”

Now that we are capable of quickly analyzing the human genome, we are finding that many of our preconceived notions about disease causation are flawed.  We used to think that genetics (inheritance) was responsible for the majority of our common diseases.  But, that is changing.  A 2010 study in The American Journal of Human Genetics, has revealed how genes and environment interact synergistically to boost disease risk and why looking for gene variants may only partly explain how diseases arise.  The authors said that while knowing more about interactions between genes and their environment would help us better understand many human diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer, it is not easy to study them on a molecular level.  It appears that most research tends to focus on “unraveling the genetic component of disease risk while ignoring the effect of environmental stimuli.”  In studying the cause of hardening of the arteries, investigators found that genes and environment work together to boost disease risk synergistically, where their combined effect exceeds the sum of their independent contributions.

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