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Genetics, Lifestyle, and Chronic Disease

It is common knowledge that some diseases and disorders are associated with genetic abnormalities: Well-known examples include Down syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, sickle-cell anemia, and cystic fibrosis. However, the influence of genetic makeup on human health is believed to be much more complex and far-reaching, with many diseases influenced by the interaction of an individual's genetic makeup and the environment, including lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise. Completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 caused some to predict that the day was near when physicians could practice personalized medicine, making specific recommendations based on an individual's clinical, genetic, genomic, and environmental information. Eight years later, it is clear that although our knowledge of human genetics has greatly increased, many challenges remain in terms of ...

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