#339 Genes vs. Habits

Which Matters More for Cancer?

Continuing our Anticancer theme, let’s have a pop quiz!

What percent influence would you guess our genes have on the likelihood of getting cancer vis-à-vis our lifestyle habits?

Genes vs. habits. Which is more impactful?

Seriously. Take a moment and think about it. The answer is coming in a moment.

First: Here’s a study to bring the point home. Imagine kids adopted at birth. Now, imagine their biological parents got cancer before they’re 50. How do you think that would effect the kids who had never lived with them? Now, imagine that their adoptive parents get cancer before age 50. Would that effect the kids even if they don’t share genes?

Hmmm… What would you guess would happen in those two scenarios?

If you’re like most people, you probably guessed that the genes passed on from the biological parents would have a huge effect on their kids. But, according to a study done on over 1,000 adopted kids in Denmark, you’d be wrong. In their study, the fact that their biological parents got cancer had NO effect on the adopted kids. (Literally, none.)

But guess what? If the kids’ ADOPTIVE parents got cancer before 50, the kids’ cancer mortality risk goes up FIVE times. (FIVE (!!!) times!!)

Why? How is that possible?!

Well, the adoptive parents didn’t pass on genes (of course) but they did pass on HABITS.

And, alas, THAT’s what matters most.

And, knowing that is a REALLY powerful thing.

If we get a cancer diagnosis (or a diabetes or a depression or a whatever diagnosis) and think, “Oh, wow. Must have lost the genetic lottery. Bummer. Nothing I could have done or could do.” then we come dangerously close to being like those helpless rats who give up.

As I learned in my Abnormal Psychology class at UCLA back in the day and Nobel-prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn tells us in The Telomere Effect, “Genes load the gun but the environment pulls the trigger.”

Just because you might have a genetic predisposition for something doesn’t mean you’re going to get that something. We need to KNOW that our lifestyle habits matter. A lot.

And then courageously Optimize them.

So… What was your answer to Today’s +1 Pop Quiz? 90%? 50%? 10%?

David Servan-Schreiber tells us our genes have a 15% impact max. Colin Campbell says 2-3%.

Celebrate that good news. Let’s get to work on our Habits.

On that note: What’s the #1 Habit you’re working on?

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