ApoE4 – The Ancestral Allele

For ApoE4 carriers interested in primal diets and science

Archive for August 2013

ApoE4s Should Avoid Getting Hit In The Head

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punch to the headEven more than other people, I mean.  A fascinating new post in the Atlantic on sports & genetics, interviewing the author of a new book The Sports Gene cites an ApoE4 result I hadn’t heard of:

I’ve written about it three or four times and it never seems to get any traction whatsoever—but it’s been known for quite a while now that this gene called ApoE4. First it was discovered as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s…

It was first discovered in the mid-1990s that this gene is sort of—I don’t want to overstate it too much, but it’s like this master brain-injury recovery key. And it’s involved in all manner of recovery from any trauma, so people who get in car accidents are more likely to die, or more likely to have brain bleeding and less likely to recover, more likely to have post-injury seizures, if they have a copy of this ApoE4 gene. And now all the data today shows that the same kind of head trauma that’s in the news all the time now for sports, people with the ApoE4 gene don’t do as well with it.

One thing that was really lost in the headline when they came out with a study a few years ago about all these brain injuries in boxers and football players with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, was the overrepresentation of the ApoE4 gene. So clearly, now, I think it’s indisputable that this gene is overrepresented among people who get brain damage from getting hit in the head.

Apparently there has been a lot of resistance to the idea of testing people for ApoE4 and using this information, with people offering the bogus argument that “You can’t change your genetics”. The author responds:

When I was asking doctors why we aren’t offering this to athletes, they said, “Well, basically, the thinking in the genetics community has been twofold. One: It’s just predisposition risk. You either have this disease or you don’t, and people have difficulty understanding that. And two: There’s nothing you can do about it.”

I’ve said, “Well, it’s a risk factor. You tell people that smoking is a risk factor,” and the doctors’ response is, “They can stop smoking. They can’t change their DNA.”

And I’ve said, “Yeah, but they can choose not to play football! Or not to be a boxer!”

We’re going to see a lot more of these arguments in the coming years as genetic sequencing continues to explode, so let’s all practice this response:

“Do you want to know your parents medical history? Yeah, me too. You can’t change it, but you can make choices based on it. Well, DNA is the same way. In fact, much of the value of your parent’s medical history is that it tells you about your DNA.”


Written by patrissimo

August 7, 2013 at 5:54 am