genetics

The Dutch are famous for windmills, impressive feats of geoengineering, and being tall and blonde. At a towering 183.8 cm (just over 6 feet tall), Dutch men are widely hailed as the tallest in the world. But new data suggests that men from regions within the Balkan country of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) are even taller.

The inhabitants of B&H display a large variation in average height. This is due to a combination of factors, such as genetics, religion, and socioeconomics. B&H is a multiethnic country, so the genetic background of its citizens is varied. Religion influences a person's dietary choices (e.g., Muslims avoid pork), while socioeconomic status affects the nutritional value of the food that a person can obtain. Just...

Iceland is a small island in the North Atlantic Ocean with a total population of about 330,000. Its relatively small size belies what may turn out to be its great importance to the world's aging population. Because the country was essentially isolated for centuries, its people became more inbred. This means that genetically speaking, native Icelanders are more similar to each other than are members of more diverse populations, and genetic researchers can use this similarity to more easily identify rare mutations in various genes. They've done so with genes that affect the onset of Alzheimer's Disease (AD).

For example, in 2012 Icelandic researchers found a variant of a gene (APP) that protects against AD. It's rare — even in...

Necrotizing fasciitis, which literally translated means "inflammation of the fascia (connective tissue) causing cell death," is the proper medical term for what is colloquially known as "flesh-eating" disease. The most recent case that made national headlines involved a man who died four days after becoming infected with the ocean-dwelling microbe Vibrio vulnificus

Naturally, public health officials, microbiologists, and journalists tend to focus on how a bacterium can become so deadly. Indeed, as bacteria evolve, they can acquire various weapons (e.g.,...

By Sean Nee, Pennsylvania State University

We humans like to think of ourselves as on the top of the heap compared to all the other living things on our planet. Life has evolved over three billion years from simple one-celled creatures through to multicellular plants and animals coming in all shapes and sizes and abilities. In addition to growing ecological complexity, over the history of life we’ve also seen the evolution of intelligence, complex societies and technological invention, until we arrive today at people flying around the world at 35,000 feet discussing the in-flight movie.

It’s natural to think...

shutterstock_407372458We can now add Staph infections to the list of things that we inherit from our parents.

A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine asks — do our genes influence whether or not we get a Staph infection? And, it looks like they do.

The group that conducted the study were in just the right place to do their research— Denmark. If there is one thing that the Danish do well, it's record keeping. The group used a database of almost every person born in Denmark and compared it with the Danish Staphylococcal Bacteremia...

Genetic testing via Shutterstock Genetic testing via Shutterstock

Part of me feels somewhat intimidated and reluctant to blast anything Google-related because they can probably take me off the grid and no one may know I ever existed – sounds a bit paranoid I know, but sort of feasible, right?

The company 23andMe, a direct-to-consumer genetic testing company, recently made headlines because they opened up more about what they offer to consumers and why they are so great.  Chief Executive Officer Anne Wojcicki, ex-wife of Sergei Brin...

BBC.com BBC.com

A new study published in JAMA studied the effect of genetics heredity on overall cancer incidence, as well as for specific cancer types, and found a substantial genetic contribution to cancer's toll.

The Nordic Twin Study of Cancer collaboration collected health data on cancer incidence among over 200,000 twins from Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden), with a mean follow-up of 32 years, beginning in 1943. The study subjects included 80,000-plus monozygotic (...

noodles-1415426-mThe evolution and spread of genetic disease is fascinating because genetic diseases (spread through inheritance only) really shouldn't exist. They are caused by having alleles (versions of a gene) that are detrimental to health and biological fitness, so they should not remain established in a population.

Natural selection is survival of the fittest. So while it is possible that a genetic disease like Huntington s disease (a neurodegenerative disorder) could remain -- it...