Study finds impact of genes on risk of disease decreases with age

According to a study in PLOS Genetics, the impact of genders on one’s risk of developing a disease decreases with age.

As part of the study, experts at the University of Oxford examined genomic data from half a million people in the UK Biobank. Their objective was to examine how their genetics influences the risk of developing common diseases, such as high blood pressure and skin cancer.

“We introduce methods to infer the form of the longitudinal relationship between genetic relative risk for disease and age and to test whether all genetic risk factors behave similarly,” the study states.

“We use a proportional hazards model within an interval-based censoring methodology to estimate age-varying individual variant contributions to genetic relative risk for 24 common diseases within the British ancestry subset of UK Biobank, applying a Bayesian clustering approach to group variants by their relative risk profile over age and permutation tests for age dependency and multiplicity of profiles.”

Researchers found that genetic risk factors have the largest impact on the risk of early disease but over time, the risk of developing a disease linked to genetics decreases.

“By applying the methods to data from the UK Biobank, a prospective study of 500,000 people, we show that there is a tendency for genetic relative risk to decline with increasing age,” the findings indicated.

“We consider a series of possible explanations for the observation and conclude that there must be processes acting that we are currently unaware of, such as distinct phases of life in which genetic risk manifests itself, or interactions between genes and the environment.”

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