by Adam Robbert
I’ve got a strong sensitivity to genocentrism. I just think its terribly bad science. A new study seems to support (as do dozens of others) a more complex reading of the gene-organism-environment relationship. In this particular instance, the so-called 9p21 gene — which is thought to be an indicator for heart disease — is shown to “turn off” in humans who have a healthy diet and exercise. Here is a little excerpt:
“We found that in people with this high-risk gene who consumed a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, their risk came down to that of people who don’t have that gene,” said Dr. Sonia Anand, a lead author and professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University.
The researchers analyzed the diets of more than 27,000 people from different parts of the world who were already enrolled in two separate studies looking at heart disease.
“Despite having a high genetic risk for heart disease, a healthy lifestyle can actually turn off the gene,” said Anand. She also said it’s not yet clear exactly how diet affects the gene.
I suspect that one day scientists will find it rather archaic that we ever thought that there were genes “for” particular traits – as though the expression of the genome were in same way predetermined (Richard Lewontin is right to point out that some simplified readings of developmental biology amount to a form of crypto-preformationism).
Stop trying to commodify my genome!