Lifestyle choices have more influence on your health than genetics, according to new research
01/27/2019 // Michelle Simmons // Views

Your lifestyle choices have a greater impact on your health than genetics, reports Science Daily. Researchers from Uppsala University say that genetic effects are influenced by different lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking, socio-economic status, alcohol consumption, and physical activity. They reached this conclusion after studying the genetic and self-reported lifestyle information of 360,000 middle-aged people in the United Kingdom.

“The results of our study clearly show that the environment and the lifestyle interact with the genes,” said study leader Mathias Rask-Andersen, researcher at the Department of Immunology, Genetics, and Pathology.

The study, published in PLOS Genetics, shows that the effect of genetic factors is lower in the most physically active participants and socio-economic status influences the genetic effects. People with a strong predisposition for obesity could reduce the effect of their genes by changing their lifestyle. Researchers hope that their findings will lead to new ways to understand the mechanisms that regulate body weight and to better methods of treating and preventing obesity and overweight.

“There could be related factors that we do not have information about, which are the real causes of our results. It is therefore important to follow up on our results with more controlled studies to determine cause and effect,” said Rask-Andersen.

Bad lifestyle habit 1: Sitting down for too long

A study reveals that sitting around for 12 hours or more per day can increase the risk of early death, as reported in another Science Daily article.

The study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that adults who sit for one to two hours at a time without moving have a higher mortality rate than those who collect the same amount of sedentary time in shorter bouts.

“We tend to think of sedentary behavior as just the sheer volume of how much we sit around each day,” said lead study author Keith Diaz, associate research scientist in the Department of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. “But previous studies have suggested that sedentary patterns — whether an individual accrues sedentary time through several short stretches or fewer long stretches of time — may have an impact on health.”

The researchers studied the inactivity during the waking hours of 7,985 adults over the age of 45 in a period of seven days. Over a median follow-up period of four years, 340 of the participants died.

Results show that those with the greatest amount of sedentary time -- more than 13 hours a day -- and who frequently had sedentary bouts of at least 60 to 90 consecutive minutes increased their risk of premature death by around 100 percent compared with those who had the least total sedentary time and the shortest sedentary bouts. The study also finds that participants who kept most of their sitting bouts to less than 30 minutes had the lowest risk of death.

“So if you have a job or lifestyle where you have to sit for prolonged periods of time, we suggest taking a movement break every half hour. This one behavior change could reduce your risk of death, although we don't know yet precisely how much activity is optimal,” Diaz advised.

Bad lifestyle habit 2: Eating incorrectly

What you eat also affects your health. In a major study by the American Institute for Cancer Research and World Cancer Research Fund, there is strong evidence that links lifestyle and colorectal cancer, as reported by Science Daily.

Ninety-nine studies, including data on 29 million people, of whom over a quarter of a million were diagnosed with colon cancer, were analyzed.

The report concludes that physical activity and whole grains reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, while too much alcohol, red meat, processed meats, and obesity increase the risk. Researchers estimate that 47 percent of colon cancer cases in the United States could be prevented yearly through healthy lifestyle changes. (Related: How Lifestyle Changes Your Genes for Better Heart Health.)

You can read more stories on the importance of lifestyle at

Sources include: 1 2 3

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