(This piece is a version of one originally written as part of a post called “Inviting Controversy” on the blog, Making Connections.)
It’s going on all the time, talk about genes and the problems that they supposedly cause and how once a certain gene is discovered and somehow changed, a problem involving a disease may be solved.
The ethics and value of genetic testing are debated and people who carry certain genes live concerned that one day they will experience a particular disease. People who do actually experience disease often feel that they are at the mercy of something they can’t do much about beyond waiting and hoping for development of medical methods that will somehow stop their genes’ hurting them.
There’s just one thing.
Genes do not really cause disease.
Now I can just hear people saying something along the lines of, “Hey. I thought research shows that genes cause disease.”
Actually if you look carefully, you will find that that is not exactly the case.
What people researching genes and disease have found is that some people who carry certain genes sometimes experience certain forms of disease.
More significantly, while genes can be seen to be involved in the creation of problems, genes are not really the underlying cause of the problems. That difference, between being involved and being the cause, is a huge one.
To wrap your mind around this better, it may help you to consider that many different types of cells in a person’s body carry essentially the same genes. Liver cells carry the same genes as brain cells. Blood cells have the same DNA as skin cells. All these cells are different even though they carry the same genetic code. So, while genes are involved in the creation of all these various types of cells, clearly the presence of certain genes is not enough to determine what goes on.
You might point to this to demonstrate that genes cause disease. “Many of my relatives experienced the same form of disease through generation after generation.” Wait though. Do many of your relatives speak the same language? Have many of them in successive generations eaten with a fork? Are these things genetic too? The fact that something runs in a family does not have to mean that genes cause it.
So what does cause disease?
What underlies the creation of disease is the way people operate. Operate one way and you experience one form of disease. Operate another way and you experience another form. Operate another way and you experience better health, and this, ways of operating and living, is the key disease creating thing that gets passed down through generations, or not.
Yes, the upshot of all this is that, by, instead of continuing a family pattern of operating in ways that create disease, operating in ways that create health, anyone can experience wellness.
I’ll use myself as an example. On both sides of my family, people have experienced problems diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease. Am I worried that I may experience that type of thing as well? Not really. I don’t operate as those people did. Another thing that runs in my family is hair loss. Am I losing my hair? Not any more. I changed the way I was operating and my hairline is now moving forward rather than backward. Allergies, solved. Prostate cancer, doubt it. Als, no chance. All these things that others in my family have experienced or are experiencing are not things I am experiencing or likely will.
There is plenty of information available on how disease is created and how to create wellness instead, including my work, the work of Gabor Mate, and the work of people involved in the field of functional medicine such as Dean Ornish. Also, by looking carefully and analytically, you can find the logic to these things yourself. So if you really want to experience wellness, rather than continue a family tradition of disease, my suggestion is that you get to work, learn how this all works and see just how healthy a life you can create.