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Knowing genetic makeup does not alter risk profile

Knowing genetic makeup does not alter risk profile
29th May 2012

Knowing the genetic make up of a patient may not make that much difference to the diseases they are at risk of.

It is a commonly held belief that knowing some people are at a higher risk of developing certain diseases means that environmental factors can be used to reduce this.

However, Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found that the link between some genetic variants or between genetic variants and environmental risk factors only reduces the risk of certain diseases by a few percentage points.

This limited change will have little impact on treatment outcomes.

"For most people, your doctor's advice before seeing your genetic test for a particular disease will be exactly the same as after seeing your tests," said senior author Peter Kraft, HSPH associate professor of epidemiology.

The study looked into diseases such as type 2 diabetes and breast cancer which both have genetic and environmental risk factors.

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