Sunday, January 07, 2007

A gene for Parkinson's.

I recently found a note on Genetics and Health about a gene for Parkinson's. I wish I could say I was enthused about the continuing discoveries. And I am in part, but not completely. My dad had Parkinson's. Mostly I'm pleased, but I'm going to also start watching out for more of the other suspected triggers. My suspicion is that all the gene means is the same thing as my predisposition towards cholesterol problems.

In my dad's family all of the men (and some of the women) have had heart attacks. in my dad his heart attack came after several years of high cholesterol. And in his case the cholesterol levels were affected by his diet. Unfortunately it is also clear that diet affects my cholesterol. And it's probably mostly due to some of the genetic factors that influence how my body deals with cholesterol.

Heredity and environment interact together. There are things I can do about my risk for heart attack as in not smoking, moderate drinking, not being overweight. But there are two factors that I can't change - family history and gender - and so if I don't watch all the other risk factors I'm starting the path to a family tradition that I would really like to break - every male in the last three generations has had a heart attack before they were fifty-five years old - more and more as I get closer to the magic number.

Heart disease is clearly affected by family history and what one does. With Parkinson's the evidence is not so clear. But hearing that at least part of the problem has been identified gives me hope. I'm not entirely thrilled by there being a genetic component to Parkinson's as it gives me one more reason to fear, but I also want to know. So I think it's more in the "I'm grateful" category than the "Whoops" column.

1 comment:

Hsien Lei said...

Thank you for reading Genetics and Health! I've feature this post in a special Heart-to-Heart on AHeartyLife.com.