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June 4, 2024

We are born with genes derived from our parents. Although they remain with us through life, you are in charge of modifying them! You can lower your risk of many illnesses by your behavior. 

A major study reported last week in the Journal of the American Heart Association showed that our everyday behavior affects how much DNA methylation takes place in our genes, which in turn, can affect our risk for cardiovascular disease and death from all causes. 

The authors assessed the 3700 participants with a LifeEssentials8 (LE8) scale. This includes health behaviors: nutrition, physical activity, smoking, and sleep quality; and health factors: BMI (weight relative to height), blood lipids and glucose, and blood pressure.

We knew that positive ‘ratings’ in these areas were associated with better health. That wasn’t a surprise. The significance of the findings is that by modifying our own LE8, we can alter the the genes we inherited. Over time, we have learned that even if we have an increased genetic risk for certain diseases, like heart disease, cancer or Alzheimer’s, we have the power to modify that risk by our behaviors. These DNA changes may be the vehicle by which our behavior changes our risk. 

In looking at the factors that most affected these outcomes, it seemed that those that alter inflammation and lipids were the most influential. This is totally consistent with current findings that inflammation is the underlying factor for almost every known disease, from arthritis to irritable bowel, and from heart attacks to autoimmune disease. Notably, from other studies, we know that these same characteristics also change the gut microbiome, which in turn can increase or decrease disease risk. 

This is likely a circuit in which behaviors change the microbiome and genes, and those in turn change behavior and risk of illness. So the best way forward is to change what you can, give yourself the best chance for a healthy longterm outcome, and watch for the results of future studies! 

What you do matters!


  1. Katie Mindling on June 5, 2024 at 12:05 am

    Thanks for posting this and it is interesting to think we could modify those things by making good choices. We sure appreciate you were giving us tips and updates

    • Lady Docs Corner Cafe on June 5, 2024 at 1:06 am

      Great to hear from you! Keep up the good work 😉