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Genetics - Our genes affect our health

Coronary artery disease, diabetes and other national chronic diseases evolve in the genome and lifestyle interaction. Genetic tests are still relatively little used, but in the future they will help predict the risk of an illness.

What are national chronic diseases?

National chronic disease refers to diseases that are significant to the health of the whole population and to public health. National chronic diseases are common, long-term and often severe, as it causes many premature deaths.

Many national chronic diseases are also of great economic importance because they use a lot of healthcare resources to deal with and cause work disability.

In addition to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, asthma and allergy, chronic lung diseases, cancer diseases, memory disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, and mental health problems are considered national chronic diseases.

Are the same risk factors for different national chronic diseases?

Yes. For example, smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic pulmonary disease, memory disorders and cancers. Other common - familiar and perhaps a bit dull - risk factors include unhealthy diet, immobility, overweight, excessive alcohol use, elevated blood pressure, and cholesterol levels in the blood.

Today we all know how to reduce the risks. Healthy lifestyles can still be difficult to follow.

How big is the role of genes in national chronic diseases?

The genes affect lifestyles as well as all national chronic diseases. For example, in the onset of cardiovascular disease, half have inherited the risk, half the diet and other lifestyles. In the most common cancer of women, breast cancer accounts for about one third of the genome.

National chronic diseases are partly due to the fact that the person has an inherited susceptibility. Susceptibility is caused by tens or hundreds of minor genetic alterations, and in addition, illness often requires an external factor, such as a disease-triggering infection or a susceptible diet.

Can genes be blamed for overweight?

Obesity is inherited by many factors. In addition to several genes, environmental factors have a great impact. There are also genes that clearly have an impact on weight gain, but the current obesity problem is mainly due to the fact that energy is more obtained than consumed. In some people, the genes seem to protect themselves from getting overweight, but still they can’t eat indefinitely.

Exercising affects obesity genes: If not exercising, the genome largely controls whether a person is fat or not. If you move a lot, the effect of obesity genes is dimmed. Actively moving body mass index will depend on genome just a little.

Does one or more genes affect one's risk of illness?

The underlying causes of the national chronic diseases are usually a cocktail of genes where many genes interact simultaneously. Only a few national chronic diseases are caused by only one or two genes. The exception is, for example, an inherited high cholesterol, familial hypercholesterolaemia, which is a fatty acid metabolism caused by a single gene failure. It is one of the most common hereditary diseases.

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What kind of illness is familial high cholesterol?

In the disease, cholesterol is constantly elevated and cholesterol accumulates to artery walls throughout the entire life. It is therefore important for the disease carriers to find it as early as possible. Without treatment, patients are infected with early coronary artery disease. It is comforting that the illness is curable. The genetic test will determine whether a person has a genetic form that causes this disease.

How to find people with hereditary high cholesterol?

After 5 to 10 years, it may be possible to measure genomic information widely from everyone and store it in the health care system. At that time, a physician can investigate whether or not he has a high cholesterol gene.

So far, cholesterol values could be measured for all, for example, in school health care and pick up individuals who have high cholesterol levels. It is also worthwhile screening the disease in the families where it is known to occur. If your mother or father or both have high cholesterol, you should test it too. Each child with a parent with familial hypercholesterolaemia has a 50% risk of developing a disease.

How do relatives' diseases affect the risk of illness?

Family history and lifestyles give good guidelines for the risk of illness. The greater the risk that the closer the relative is. We share half of our inheritance with each of our parents, and we also have a common fridge throughout the childhood. With cousins we share only an eighth of our inheritance. The risk of a distant relative is usually the same as in the general population.

How much genetic tests are used in health care?

Genetic tests are continually increased. They are used to diagnose rare diseases. The tests seek rare hereditary diseases, such as haemorrhagic disease or myalgia.

Such diseases are inevitably affected if a person has a genetic defect in that particular disease. In these diseases, genetic tests are very useful. The tests allow the patient to get accurate diagnosis, treatment, and important information about family planning.

Are genetic tests used in cancer treatment?

Yes. Tumor genetic testing is used to investigate gene abnormalities in the cancerous tumor that may affect the effectiveness of the anticancer drug. Genetic testing allows a physician to better understand the origin of cancer, so that treatment can be targeted correctly and reduced unnecessary treatments and side effects to the patient.

Genetic tests are also widely used in screening of cancer risk: tests can be used to identify inherited cancer-causing genes. In these diseases, a single gene defect causes a much higher risk of disease than normal, but the disease is not inevitable.

How much of breast cancer is genetic?

About 5-10 percent. There are families where breast cancer occurs more commonly and families where it occurs very much at an early age. Women with inherited genetic defects in breast cancer have a significantly higher risk of breast cancer than other women. In these families, it is customary to look for genetic traits on people with high susceptibility to guide them to preventive monitoring.

Is there a genetic test that would be useful to everyone?

The pharmacogenetic test is used somewhat but it should become more common. The test analyzes several genes and tells how a person tolerates various drugs.

To date, more than 100 drugs have been identified, the effect of which is significantly dependent on the patient's own inheritance. The test helps to anticipate the effects of drugs on a patient and to dispense drugs more safely and efficiently.

If someone has inherited bad genes, is it game over?

Even if someone has become predisposed to an illness, their own lifestyles can in many cases affect the outbreak of the disease. For example, nutrition affects the functioning of the genes, and a particular diet can either inhibit or promote the development of the disease.

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