Is genetics destiny when it comes to heart disease?
A new analysis of data from more than 55,000 people provides an answer. It finds that by living right — by not smoking, by exercising moderately and by eating a healthy diet heavy in fruits, vegetables and grains — people can tamp down even the worst genetic risk. “DNA is not destiny; it is not deterministic for this disease,” said Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, the director of the Center for Human Genetic Research at Massachusetts General Hospital. “You do have control over the problem, even if you have been dealt a bad genetic hand.” The research, by Dr. Kathiresan and his colleagues, is the first attempt to use large data sets to tease apart the effects of genes and lifestyle in heart disease, researchers said. It was published on Sunday in The New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with the presentation of the results at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association.
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