New study says our genes are not responsible for diabetes

Here’s a big new revelation: the cause of diabetes is not genetic. A new analysis, published by the public interest science organization, The Bioscience Resource Project, finds little evidence that inherited genes cause common diseases like diabetes, heart disease, autism, cancer, depression and dementia. Fuller story here.

The analysis includes more than 700 genetic studies conducted around the world, covering over 80 different diseases and concludes due to similar results that of the approximately 1,000 genes identified that confer susceptibility to disease, only a tiny handful are of even limited importance.

Geneticists also say the possible hiding places for disease genes to be located are in places distinct from where almost all other genetic information has so far been found. That makes these hiding places scientifically highly implausible. “A genetic basis for susceptibility to common diseases was only ever a hypothesis,” says Dr. Jonathan Latham, Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project. Of course I’m surprised having always heard genetics, along with lifestyle choices are the principle causes of diabetes.

Yet, it appears data around patterns of health and illness have always indicated that Western diseases are determined overwhelmingly by diet and other non-genetic factors. Similarly, data has shown that many diseases can be reversed or accelerated by diet and other lifestyle choices. So, researchers say, the crucial importance of the new genomic findings is that it shows that genetic research does not contradict these environmental explanations of disease. Rather, it strongly supports them.

The studies co-author, Dr. Allison Wilson, says it means that for most people personalized genomics is never going to be useful for predicting what diseases they will develop. The good news, Wilson also says is, “Our fate does not reside in disease genes. Our health is in our own hands.” 

For those who are thin and active and get type 2 diabetes it leaves me to wonder. For those who are overweight and sedentary it is good news – if you act on it.

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