Our genes influence the risk for different types of diseases from heart disease to cancer. Genomic technology can be used to predict future risk of these diseases. A recent study from Gil McVean of the University of Oxford and colleagues determined that the impact genes have on the risk of getting sick decreases with age. Genomic data from 500,000 people in the UK Biobank was analyzed to see how their genetics impacted their risk of developing 24 diseases. Researchers determined that the highest risk for many genetic diseases, including skin cancer and underactive thyroids, is early in life and then decreases with aging. The magnitude and form of decrease varies with disease. The exact reasons behind why the risk decreases with age is not clear, but McVean and the team concluded that there must be underlying processes that they are currently unaware of such as the interactions between genes and the environment or gene-gene interactions. Future studies will hopefully determine why aging decreases the risk of developing genetically related diseases to help determine if someone will develop a disease. If we can determine whether or not someone will develop one of these diseases, we can take measures to lower the risk. It will be interesting for them to conduct more studies on this inherited risk because age is just one factor that varies among us.
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