Overplaying the Genetics Card as a Cause of Chronic Disease

Overplaying the Genetics Card as a Cause of Chronic Disease

Many years ago, I had my cholesterol level checked and found that it was higher than recommended, so the doctor suggested that I consider taking a statin drug to lower it. I told the doctor that I would like to try and lower my cholesterol through diet first. The doctor was skeptical because I had mentioned to him that there was a history of high cholesterol and hypertension in our family.

The doctor said that these health conditions were often genetic and that, thus, there was likely not much I could do about it other than take the recommended drugs, and that I should not be too disappointed if my nutritional efforts failed.

During the following six weeks, my wife researched how I needed to change my eating habits to reduce my cholesterol. She developed a repertoire of new food recipes and proceeded to prepare healthier meals aimed at lowering cholesterol. At the end of the six weeks, I had my cholesterol checked again  and, lo and behold, my level had dropped by 100 points. My doctor was astonished.

Not too long after that experience, my wife undertook a project to collect my mother’s favorite food recipes—most of which had been passed on to her from her mother and perhaps even her grandmother. As she was typing up the ingredients and amounts one day, she turned to me and said, “You know, I think I know why there may be a history of high cholesterol and high blood pressure in your family. Nearly every one of your mother’s recipes begins with at least one stick of butter!”

So, was my high cholesterol genetic or was it owed to environmental factors—eating and drinking habits that may have been shared by my progenitors, handed down in my family from generation to generation? Could it have been some combination of both? My ability (with the help of my wife) to so rapidly decrease my cholesterol by so much left me inclined to believe in environmental factors as the cause.

If you suffer from the same health conditions known to have afflicted family members, both past and present, and those relatives also share the same diet, exposure to environmental toxins (including vaccination), and other lifestyle habits, why wouldn’t that be the most logical place to start to investigate the cause of those conditions? Why does it seem that the medical profession is too often too quick to settle on genetics as the cause of major chronic health conditions it does not fully understand and prescribe drugs to alleviate or mask the symptoms of those conditions?

Take autism, for example. It has not been determined for sure what causes autism, which appears to have both an immunological and neurological component but, most of the time, all we hear is that autism is genetic. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), “A great deal of evidence supports the idea that genes are one of the main causes of or a major contributor to ASD (autism spectrum disorder). More than 100 genes on different chromosomes may be involved in causing ASD, to different degrees.”1

Some physicians like pediatrician Paul Offit, MD are convinced autism is a matter of genetics. In an interview broadcast on the PBS documentary series Frontline two years ago, he stated:

There’re a number of studies looking at the genetics of autism, and it clearly is at least genetic. It’s not going to be a simple genetics. It’s not going to be like sickle cell disease or cystic fibrosis, where one gene makes one protein that’s aberrant. Here it’s obviously many genes that make many proteins that have a complex interplay, so it’s not going to be easy. But it’s at least genetic.2

Other physicians disagree with Dr. Offit. According to Joseph Mercola, DO:

Autism was a very uncommon condition when I was in medical school; it impacted maybe one in 10,000 children. Now we are seeing an explosion of cases numbering somewhere between 1 in 50 and 1 in 110 children, depending on what source of statistics you use.

Clearly something is going on, but it is most likely not a problem with genetics in the majority of cases, as conventional medicine has often suggested. Research is now clearly showing that environmental factors play an equal, if not more important, role in the epidemic of autism spectrum diseases.3

British clinical psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen, PhD agrees with Dr. Mercola. Dr. Baron-Cohen is professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge in England and director of the university’s Autism Research Centre.4 Baron-Cohen states:

We know that autism is not 100% genetic in origin, since in the case of identical twins (who share 100% of their genes), there are instances of one twin having autism and the other not having it. In fact, the likelihood of the co-twin also having autism where one of them has it (in monozygotic (MZ) pairs) is about 60%. This means that there must be some non-genetic (i.e., environmental) factors that are part of the cause of autism.5 

There are many other chronic diseases and disorders on the rise in the United States for which the causes are not known, but doctors quite often speculate that they could be simply genetic in nature. These include brain and immune system disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), Crohn’s disease, fibromayalgia, lupus, some cancers, and others.

“It’s probably genetic” seems to be the preferred go-to explanation whenever a doctor or scientist does not know the cause of a chronic disease or condition.6 7 8

Why? Perhaps because it’s the easiest response and removes much of the responsibility from the doctor or scientist to figure out what’s going on and places blame on the patient, who cannot do anything about their “genetics.” In an article titled “If people realized how little doctors knew, they’d be very scared” published in Quartz last year,9 Katherine Ellen Foley wrote:

One of the hardest things you learn in training as a doctor is that most of the stuff you learn in medical school is kind of useful background noise, but it doesn’t tell you anything about the patient in the bed.9

Furthermore, how are doctors expected to figure out the root causes of chronic ailments experienced by their patients when, in many cases, they are not even able to correctly diagnose the ailments themselves?

In a CNN article published in 2014, health writer Amanda MacMillan listed “15 diseases doctors often get wrong.”10  These include: irritable bowel syndrome, Celiac disease, fibromayalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), Lyme disease, lupus, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), appendicitis, endometriosis, migraines, cluster headaches, hypothyroidism, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).10

It is simply easier to throw down the genetics card. That’s not to say that genetics or genetic predisposition is never a factor or co-factor in increased individual susceptibility to autoimmune disorders or neurological diseases.11

In fact, a study published last year in PLoS One found that “genetic factors are not the major causes of chronic diseases.”12 The study argues that too much weight is being given to genetics in determining causes of chronic diseases—a view of chronic disease that is too “genome-centric.” It stresses that environmental factors or “exposures” are too often “relegated” to “secondary rolls.”12


1 Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. What causes autism? NIH.gov.
2 Boghani P. Dr. Paul Offit: “A Choice Not To Get a Vaccine Is Not a Risk-Free Choice”. PBS Mar. 23, 2015.
3 Mercola J. Genes Are NOT the Main Cause of Autism. Mercola.com Aug. 19, 2011.
4 University of Cambridge. Professor Simon Baron-Cohen. Autism Research Centre.
5 Child Health Safety. Autism Not Genetic–Says Expert Professor Simon Baron Cohen. ChildHealthSafety.wordpress.com.
6 Feeling faint? It’s probably genetic, say scientists. The Sydney Morning Herald Apr. 18, 2013.
7 Roberts E. Is your toddler a fussy eater? It’s probably not your fault, say scientists. CNN Oct. 14, 2016.
8 Wells SD. Most disease in America is not genetic, but doctors and media lie so you will accept it and stay sick. Natural News May 28, 2013.
9 Foley KE. If people realized how little doctors knew, they’d be very scared. Quartz May 5, 2016.
10 MacMillan A. 15 diseases doctors often get wrong. CNN Sept. 3, 2014.
11 Institute of Medicine Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines. Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality: Evaluating Biological Mechanisms of Adverse Events (p. 57-102), Increased Susceptibility (p. 82). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press 2012.
12 Rappaport SM. Genetic Factors Are Not the Major Causes of Chronic Diseases. PLoS One Apr. 22, 2016.

Note: This commentary provides referenced information and perspective on a topic related to vaccine science, policy, law or ethics being discussed in public forums and by U.S. lawmakers.  The websites of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provide information and perspective of federal agencies responsible for vaccine research, development, regulation and policymaking.


10 Responses to "Overplaying the Genetics Card as a Cause of Chronic Disease"

  1. JoAnn   November 15, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Thank you SO MUCH for publishing this article!! The author’s experience with high cholesterol is very similar to what many members of my family have experienced too, and is well corroborated by a growing body of research showing arrest and reversal of heart disease with a whole-foods, plant-based (NO ADDED OILS) diet.
    Sadly, I have noticed that many of those who recognize how large corporate industries have manipulated public perception about the real benefits/risks of vaccines, have still fallen victim to similar propaganda when it comes to risks/benefits of eating meat/dairy/eggs/fish.
    Heart Disease is still our number one killer, and enormous evidence shows that at least 80% of the time it is a FOOD BORNE ILLNESS — from consuming animal fat, animal protein, processed oils and refined carbohydrates.
    Fortunately in most cases it IS reversible — these books are a great place to start:
    The End of Heart Disease by Joel Fuhrman
    Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell Esselstyn
    The Pleasure Trap by Alan Goldhammer
    Thank you NVIC for the great work that you do!!


  2. D. Smith   November 15, 2017 at 10:13 am

    First of all, about 99% of people don’t need to “lower” their cholesterol. That is the biggest myth we deal with today. It’s a crock. Your body needs cholesterol. Most people who die (of all causes) have a LOW cholesterol count – doesn’t that tell people anything at all? Most morticians and coroner’s will tell you straight out that cholesterol is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing and the human body doesn’t function well without lots of it. As soon as the medical industry gets “over itself” they might at some point be able to talk to their patients about nutrition. Until that time, NEVER EVER take nutritional information from someone who knows nothing about it. That includes, sad to say, about 90% of regular medical doctors.

    I’ve never believed that genetics are a big deal. I am not my father, I am not my mother, I am not my brother, etc. I am a person all to myself and my body is made up in an entirely different manner than my siblings and parents and grandparents, etc. Years ago the saying used to be that kids inherited more traits from their grandparents than they do from their parents. That might be true, but it’s teetering on the edge of truth, for sure.

  3. Marene Mayer   November 15, 2017 at 11:32 am

    There are many years of proof that high Cholesterol does not cause heart attacks or strokes. Lowering too much can have devastating effects to the Brain (which is bathed in Cholesterol) and to the Nervous system. I suggest reading the latest article from Dr. Bruce Fife
    Healthy Ways Newsletter Volume 14 Number 5 11/13/17. All can be corrected with Proper supplementation, from qualified practitioner, & proper diet.

    • LivingWaterTruth   November 15, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      Spot on! The “high” cholesterol levels decried by the medical mafia are directly due to the evil influence of BigPharma and their lies. To lower cholesterol levels to what THEY dictate is dangerous. Our bodies make cholesterol; it is a vital substance for brain health. Our steroid hormones also require cholesterol in their manufacture.

      Back away and then RUN away from the continual lies and fraud peddled by the ghouls at BigPharma and the medical mafia.

  4. Laurie Masters   November 15, 2017 at 11:54 am

    So true! For the VAST majority of degenerative diseases in today’s industrialized nations, the main thing we inherit from our families is their EATING HABITS!

    Famed Cleveland Clinic heart surgeon Caldwell Esselstyn, MD explains this in an interview called “Heart Disease: A Toothless Paper Tiger That Need Never Exist – read it here: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-freston/heart-disease-a-toothless_b_334285.html

    The same is true for type 2 diabetes: It is a CHOICE!

    The good news is, you can easily choose to reverse it – as long as you DON’T do what your doctor tells you! If you avoid carbohydrates as you are taught, you are 100% GUARANTEED to remain diabetic, and medicated, for the rest of your life.

    If instead you avoid the foods that CAUSE insulin resistance (not sugar!) the disease becomes a thing of the past – often within weeks, and definitely within months.

    Learn about this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KWAgKR9JBE

  5. Laurie Masters   November 16, 2017 at 3:02 am

    This man had NINE stents and was due for SIX bypasses. Then earlier this year he changed his diet. The results are RIDICULOUS! If anyone doubts that heart disease is caused by what’s on the end of your fork (and can be reversed with your fork), check this out: http://www.masteringdiabetes.org/reverse-heart-disease/

  6. Dani   November 16, 2017 at 7:29 am

    I get so tired of hearing that autism is genetic. While there might be a component of that that is true, if you look at the numbers, it is clearly due to outside factors. For something to be truly genetic, it can only grow at the rate that a population is growing. When looking at autism numbers, that is clearly not the case as the rate of autism is growing at a much higher rate than population growth, not to mention the parameters are expanded so that more conditions (ex: ADHD) can be included as being on the spectrum.

  7. jay   November 17, 2017 at 8:29 am

    The gene theory of cancer, disease etc. Is proven wrong by kochs postulates, which must be applied. End of story. The gene industry is in full swing as a major profit center and will not brook any protest against its weak weak position. Apo E4 Alzheimers gene is one of many examples. It is not present in 65% of cases and just because it shows in 35% does not mean its the cause.

  8. Melinda   November 17, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Autism can not be genetic because I cured my daughter of autism using the Gut and Psychology Syndrome or GAPS protocol from Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. My husband and I have no history of autism in either family. She was the first and diet changed everything for her. Had she never been vaccinated, never had antibiotics, and if I had not been so overly toxic before she was born maybe it would have never happened to her. Also I hate the fat and meat myth about heart disease. My husband was a heart attack waiting to happen. We started eating tons of eggs, lard, butter, fatty animal meats and everything changed for him. Read Put your heart in your mouth by Dr. Natasha to take your risk of heart disease away as well.

  9. JoAnn   November 25, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Lots of misunderstanding on this issue — as most of these comments show. Having a “normal” cholesterol level in a society where heart disease is the leading cause of death is not a good thing. The only reason the medical profession considers, under 200 to be desirable is because the main way they recommend lowering cholesterol is with drugs — and the dangers of these drugs are well known. So if you use them on people whose cholesterol is not super high — the risk of drugs becomes greater than the risk of their untreated high cholesterol.
    This is the source of much misunderstanding.
    However, if you want to be heart attack proof — get your cholesterol below 150 — using diet and not drugs. There are no side effects from this, but most people can only achieve this by eliminating meat/dairy/eggs/fish/sugar/oils.
    Yes we need fat — but we need good fats naturally present in whole plant foods like flax, hemp, walnuts, algae, greens, avocado. NOT OILS — which are a processed calorically concentrated food, with the fiber and many phytochemicals removed. Kind of like the difference between eating a whole cooked beet root, versus using that root to make sugar. Whole walnuts are good, but walnut oil, not so good.


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