What can we say about good or bad heredity and just plain good or bad luck? Certainly, for some people, heredity boosts the risk of several diseases, including heart disease, some forms of cancer, obesity, and Alzheimer dementia. But usually behavioral, social, and environmental factors are much more important than heredity. This effect can be seen by what happens when people move from an environment with a low risk of a disease, and they adopt the less healthy lifestyle of a new environment. Their risk of illness goes up to more closely match that of others living in the new environment. For example, one study found that the incidence of heart attack among Japanese men age 45-49 living in Hawaii was as high as for Japanese men 20 years older living in Japan. And the age-adjusted rate of heart attack for Japanese men living in California was an additional 50% higher than for those living in Hawaii.

Genetics may increase the propensity to get a certain disease, but for most diseases among populations at high risk because of an unhealthy lifestyle, as much as 80% to 90% of the disease risk is from non-genetic factors. We know that a set of factors that are modifiable, including smoking, inactivity, unhealthy nutrition, high blood pressure, and overweight, account for over 70% of stroke and colon cancers, over 80% of coronary heart disease, and over 90% of adult-onset diabetes. It is increasingly clear that although we cannot change our genetic makeup, changing our behaviors can change the ways that genes are expressed and counteract the hereditary propensity for a variety of diseases. Such factors such as exercise, diet, aging, obesity, and stress have epigenetic effects, that is to say, they influence which of an individual’s genes may be turned on or turned off.

This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information.  I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in the book or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Wellness with a Lifestyle Checklist. References for most of the health related information in this blog can be found in the book, The Building Blocks of Health now available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Building-Blocks-Health-Lifestyle-Checklist-ebook/dp/B08RC3XRCY/. Copyright 2020 by J. Joseph Speidel.