What is a Polygenic Risk Score?

Jessica Greenwood, MS, LGC has written an article about DNA that is now available in the MyHeritage Blog. I suspect this article will interest many people, genealogists and non-genealogists alike. It certainly was of interest to me! The article describes your inherited DNA and the effect it has on your health and life expectancy.

Jessica Greenwood writes:

“As the average lifespan has grown over the past several decades, learning about your health and how to preserve it has become increasingly more important. Scientists are constantly uncovering new developments about the impact that genetics has on our long term health. Genetics, and what they mean for us personally, can be complicated. But learning how our genetics may impact our health can empower us to make different choices that can significantly change the long-term risk to develop certain conditions.

“In this Health blog series, we’ll dive into hot topics related to DNA testing and health as well as how this testing can be incorporated into your overall health management plan. So, let’s get started!

“How is the Risk for Complex Conditions Determined?

“Ever wonder if heart disease has some genetic component? What about type 2 diabetes? Or breast cancer? There is a new technique that aims to combine DNA testing with mathematical modeling to answer that very question on a personal level. It is called a polygenic risk score (PRS). But what exactly is a polygenic risk score?”:

You can read the full article in the MyHeritage Blog at: https://blog.myheritage.com/2019/10/what-is-a-polygenic-risk-score/.

One Comment

The information presented in the MyHeritage blog on “polygenic risk” is very basic. The idea of assessing the genetic contribution to health is not new, and the experience from the past suggests caution. For example, there is a long history of “twin studies”, attempting to determine how much of the risk of, say, schizophrenia, is due to nature (genes) versus nurture (environment, as in identical twins separated at birth). These studies often estimate a large genetic component for various diseases or conditions, but the results have been hard to replicate or to translate into meaningful treatments or even the discovery of individual genes. The science of turning genetic information into health wisdom is still in its infancy. Its ability to predict long-term health risks is essentially untested and unproven. Surely the science will improve, but early adopters will need to be wary of basing major decisions on it.


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