Genes Have Little To Do With Medical And Mental Health Outcomes

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated May 16, 2021

genes are not our mental health destiny

A new study by University of Alberta researchers confirms earlier research that genes have very little to do with the vast majority of medical and mental health outcomes.[1]

The study, which involved examining twenty years of data, concluded that DNA contributed only about five to ten percent to the development of disease, including some mental health conditions such as anxiety disorder, bipolar, and major depressive disorder.

Most of the factors that contribute to disease are metabolism, environment, lifestyle, and exposure to various nutrients, chemicals, bacteria, or viruses, according to David Wishart, professor of biological science and computing science at the University of Alberta.

“Simply put, DNA is not your destiny, and SNPs are duds for disease prediction,” Wishart said to Global News.[2]

The Global News article said,

“We looked at around 220 different diseases and about 590 different studies, and tried to put all that information together and determine just how much do your genes, or these SNPs, effect your likelihood or risk of getting a disease,” Wishart said.

There were some exceptions, however. Genes contributed 40 to 50 percent to the development of Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and macular degeneration.

If you are concerned about your medical and mental health, it’s better to look at the factors that are known to contribute to their development, and then make changes where you can, such as behavioral modification, eating healthy, and getting regular exercise.

As for anxiety disorder, the point should be clear: Anxiety disorder is NOT caused by genes.

This also means there is a lot you can do to overcome anxiety disorder. No one needs to suffer needlessly.

Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to overcome issues with anxiety and its symptoms.[3]

NOTE: Genetic testing can be helpful in determining family history, but not for determining medical or mental health outcomes.


Disclaimer: anxietycentre.com is not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted at anxietycentre.com by contributing institutions or for the use of any information throughout anxietycentre.com's system.


The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our Anxiety Research page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Genes Have Little To Do With Medical And Mental Health Outcomes.

References

1. Patron, Jonas, et al. "Assessing the performance of genome-wide association studies for predicting disease risk." PLOS ONE, 5 Dec 2019, https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0220215

2. Allison Bench. “Alberta study shows DNA may not actually be good predictor of disease, health.” Global News, 18 Dec 2019, https://globalnews.ca/news/6313646/genetic-disease-risks-university-of-alberta-study/

3. Leichsenring, Falk. “Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy the Gold Standard for Psychotherapy?” JAMA, American Medical Association, 10 Oct. 2017, jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2654783.