Why it matters: Information about what causes diseases – or even what does cause diseases – can inform future research, study author Chirag Lakhani tells Axios.
"We want to know: Would genetics be more helpful line of research or not, "Lakhani says. What they did: Using the identified data from Aetna insurance (which did not find the study), the team from Harvard Medical Schools and Australia's University of Queensland examined records from nearly 45 million Americans, including more than 56,000 twin pairs and 724,000 sibling pairs.
- They analyzed heritable and environmental factors across 560 common conditions and diseases spanning categories, ranging from cardiovascular illness and neuromuscular diseases to skeletal conditions
- heritability findings (called CaTCH) with that of another large data dive into twin sets from 2015 (called MaTCH), although the ages of twins and the s
What they found: Nearly 40% of the diseases in the study (225 or 560) had a genetic component, while 25% (138 or 560) partly voted from a shared living environment ( conditions from sharing the same household, social influences, etc.)
- Heritability shows the greatest influence on cognitive disorders (4 out of 5 diseases). It has the least amount of influence on connective tissue diseases (2 out of 11)
- Shared environmental influence has the highest impact on eye disorders (27 out of 42), followed by respiratory diseases (34 out of 48 conditions). It has the least effect on reproductive illnesses (3 out of 18) and cognitive conditions (2 out of 5).
- Zip codes – which includes socioeconomic status, climate conditions and air quality – had a " faragen effect "on most diseases than genes and shared environment, Lakhani says. However, it is a potent factor in morbid obesity, although it does, although genetically plays a role as well.
- Nearly 60% of monthly health spending can be predicted by analyzing genetic and environmental factors, they found.
Or note: The researchers examined data from newborns to 24 years of age, so the study doesn't analyze diseases that tend to start later in life.
Outside perspective: Andrey Rzhetsky, a professor of medicine and human genetics at the University of Chicago, says, "Overall, the data is fantastic (very large sample) and technology is solid. … Yes, there is some inherent ambiguity in [the] attribution of effects to shared genetics vs. shared environment. This can be resolved only with new, higher-resolution data. "
" The most important message is that estimates are obtained from very different data types appear to agree rather well, "Rzhetsky tells Axios.
Go deeper: The full study finding s are here.