Genes and behavior

NEWSWEEK reports:

Over the past decade, [genetics company] deCODE has discovered genes linked to type 2 diabetes, atrial fibrillation, heart attack, prostate cancer, glaucoma, breast cancer … seemingly every ill ever visited upon humanity short of boils. But that wasn’t good enough. The gene variants, it turns out, account for only a small fraction of the risk of developing these diseases. Plus, many genes affect that risk. As a result, tests for disease-risk genes, and even drugs that target the pathways the genes affect, aren’t all that informative or useful, limiting the market for both diagnostics and treatments based on disease genes…

A more pointed rebuke to DNA centrism comes from research on how children’s behavior affects how adults treat them. That kids (through their behavior) create their own environment, so to speak, has been known to science since the 1960s (and to parents forever). But scientists have hardly studied it, notes psychologist Claire Vallotton of Michigan State University, in part because they have been loath to look too hard into something that implies a baby is to blame for how she is treated.


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