Health is greatly influenced by one’s genetics. Nearly every cell in the body carries an entire genome full of variations as the template for the development of its protein machinery. Therefore, it can be said that genetic variations impact all cellular, biochemical, physiological, and morphological aspects of a human being. For this reason, the majority of current research focuses on how genetic variation is associated with the risk of developing particular diseases.
Many common diseases such as cancer, CVD, diabetes, hypertension, and many mental illnesses, can be associated with different genes and genetic variations. For example, it is very likely that gene variations are associated with a predisposition toward the initiation of disease. Other genes or gene variations are also involved in the progression of a disease.
Additionally, different sets of genes may be involved in how an individual responds to pharmaceutical treatments for that disease. It is also extremely likely that genes whose variability controls how much or how little a person is likely to be responsive to the environmental risk factors are associated with disease risk. Furthermore, it is believed that genes that affect a person’s overall longevity that may interact or possibly counteract with genes that may otherwise predispose that person to a particular disease outcome. This may have an additional impact on the person’s likelihood of surviving the disease.
Genetics in Health
Although there have been many advancements, we are still at the beginning of developing our understanding of how genomic variations give rise to disease susceptibility. Additionally, many feel that without considering the important role of one’s environment, we will never fully understand the role of genetics in health.
As new technology becomes available, progress is being made for measuring biological variation in the genome, transcriptome, proteome, and metabonome. Large shifts in conceptual framework regarding the role of genes in disease susceptibility have been made.
Furthermore, global patterns of genomic susceptibility are likely to emerge if we consider the influence of the many interacting components. These components work simultaneously and are dependent on contexts such as age, sex, diet, and physical activity that modify the relationship with disease susceptibility.
For the most part, we are still at the stage of documenting the complexity, finding examples and types of genetic susceptibility genes, understanding disease heterogeneity, and postulating ways to develop models of risk that use the totality of what we know about human biology, from our genomes to our ecologies to model risk.