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Nat Rev Genet. 2006 Dec;7(12):958-65.

The balance between heritable and environmental aetiology of human disease.

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  • 1Division of Molecular Genetic Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Im Neuenheimer Feld 580, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


The Human Genome Project and the ensuing International HapMap Project were largely motivated by human health issues. But the distance from a DNA sequence variation to a novel disease gene is considerable; for complex diseases, closing this gap hinges on the premise that they arise mainly from heritable causes. Using cancer as an example of complex disease, we examine the scientific evidence for the hypothesis that human diseases result from interactions between genetic variants and the environment.

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