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Gene–environment interactions and public health 

Gene–environment interactions and public health
Chapter:
Gene–environment interactions and public health
Author(s):

Paolo Vineis

and Rodolfo Saracci

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199218707.003.0058
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date: 19 June 2019

This chapter discusses the history of the establishment of the role of genes in the hereditary causation of disease. It also covers the present day understanding of gene-environment interactions, and finally looks at public health applications and perspectives concerning this aspect of biomedicine.

is a large consensus among scientists that only a minor fraction of diseases, of the order of about 5 per cent, is monogenic while the vast majority of cases are due to the interplay or ‘interaction’ of genetic and environmental factors, the latter being often dominant.

A number of potential public health applications flowing from the investigation of gene-environment interactions may be imagined, the common element of which is by definition the identification of subjects carrying different gene variants through genetic testing within families already known to be at high risk of disease or genetic screening in the general population The former is well established within clinical genetics (though the new developments may pose new specific problems) while the latter opens perspectives worth discussion.

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