It's Not In Your Genes

As faster and cheaper genomic analysis rushes forward, we see more and more groups checking for genome correlations with particular conditions. Some of these have been spectacularly successful. Others have not. Sometimes I’m glad that this is the case.

Clearly, that you may have a predisposition to develop breast cancer, can ensure proper monitoring and that is a good thing. To know or not to know is then a personal choice. The knowledge can weigh heavily.

The studies that I’m glad don’t give good correlations are ones such as the enquiry into a genetic link to criminal violence, for example.

The latest good news is from the study by the large team of Lewis et al from the UK. They looked at the genomic analysis of a little over 2,000 patients suffering from depression. They were classified in terms of suicidal behavior to see if a genetic predisposition to suicidality was present.  The classification went from suicidal thought, through to attempts and finally completion.

The great good news is that there isn’t a clear genomic set-up that means that we should stay away from tall buildings, high cliffs or train lines. A genetic predisposition for suicide would be enough to bring on a bout of depression and make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once we think that we may be programmed, it is easy to slip into a fatalistic frame of mind.

I see these negative answers as a most positive result and as important as the ones that do come up with correlations. We have enough trouble moving towards equal opportunity, as it is without having to be reading our genome like the astrology pages.


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