Blame the Genes

DNA StrandsJust heard a news story that researchers have identified three genes responsible for about 9 percent of  stuttering. In the story, a woman who stuttered as a child and teenager and who now works with other stutterers was nearly in tears at the news. Her clients, she said, would be so happy to learn that their stuttering “wasn’t their fault.”

I’m happy for the stutterers of the world. But this story made me think about so many other things related to our health that we try to find an “out” for, something that makes it not our “fault.” The more we learn about the contribution of genes to human health, the more stories like the stuttering one we’ll hear. The thing is, our genes do not operate in a vacuum. Just because I have a gene or genes that increase my risk of lung cancer doesn’t mean I’ll get it. But add smoking to the mix–an environmental component–and it’s much more likely I’ll develop lung cancer as the environmental stress combined with the genetic mutations turn on or off the underlying biochemical processes … Continue Reading