Genetic Horoscope
+ What do your genes have in store for your future?

Ashkenazi Woman
Dear reader, your genetic odds are stacked against you. In addition to having a 4% chance of carrying Tay-Sachs Disease, a 10% chance of carrying Gaucher Disease, and a 21% chance of carrying Familial Mediterranean Fever, there is a 2.5% chance that you carry a mutation of the BRCA gene, which confers a 60% lifetime risk of breast cancer. BRCA mutations account for approximately 20% of Jewish breast cancer cases. But there is also good news: there is a 20% chance that you carry the ADH2*2 allele, a variation of the gene that codes for an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol. Under the sway of this mutation, you can expect to drink less and have more adverse reactions to alcohol, which will make you less likely to succumb to alcoholism (Hasin et al 2002).

African American
The genetic dice have not fallen in your favor. Your risk for developing Alzheimer's is 14-100% higher than that of the general American population. While several genes for Alzheimer's have been identified, the illness is significantly more common among individuals who never received a high school diploma. Beware: you also have a 33.5% chance of developing hypertension (35.8% among women) (Hajjar and Kotchen). Suicides (which are now believed to be genetically influenced) among African American youth increased 233% between 1980 and 1995, compared to 120% among non-Hispanic whites (Surgeon General). Chances are good that you will become a heavy smoker, especially if you carry a gene prevalent in the African American population which predisposes you to nicotine addiction.

Native American
A piece of advice: now is the time to pay attention to your health and to start thinking positively. Your suicide rate is currently 50% higher than the national average. Furthermore, you have a 60% lifetime risk of alcohol dependence, and are twice as likely to be alcohol dependent under the influence of the ADH2*1 allele (Wall et al. 2003). You are almost three times as likely as the general US population to contract Type 2 Diabetes, even higher if you are an Arizona American Indian (65% prevalence in men, 72% in women) (Gohdes 1995; Lee et al. 1995).



Stop beating yourself up! You are not at fault for your sexual orientation-it was preordained by your genes. Studies of identical twins show that if one twin is gay, there is a 48% chance that the other twin is, too (Bailey 1993). Scientists have also shown that lesbianism is a genetic trait with 50% heritability (Hershberger). And if that isn't enough to convince you, consider this: experts who have measured the physical characteristics of gay men say that homosexual men weigh less, have lower spatial ability, and larger genitals than their heterosexual counterparts. Also, you are more likely to be left-handed than the general population (Hershberger 1999).

School Children
News flash: there has been a 900% increase in diagnoses of autism since 1992 (U.S. Department of Education). If your parents don't have you diagnosed as autistic, perhaps you could still be "autism-lite": in a group of 10,000 school children, between 23 and 36 students have Asperger's Syndrome. If you are a boy, the prevalence jumps to 60 in 10,000. You are much more likely to be diagnosed with Asperger's if you are the child of Caucasian, upper-middle-class professionals. But even more certain in your near future is a diagnosis of ADHD, a disorder that might be associated with mutations of dopamine receptor and transporter genes. You have a 7.5% chance of being diagnosed ADHD, and if you are an American child, you are 20 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than a Western European schoolchild (Barbaresi et al. 2002; Osborne 2002).

Do you think you're brainy? Here are a few ways to find out for sure: If you wear glasses, you are genetically more likely to be an intelligent person. While only approximately 15% of the general student population is myopic, at least 44% of students with an IQ higher than 135 are near-sighted. However, myopia also increases with academic status: while only 4% of Taiwanese 6-year olds are myopic, 70% of Taiwanese 15-year olds and 95.5% of Taiwanese medical students are near-sighted. It now appears that intelligence is 80% heritable, and has a 40% correlation with brain volume, which is 85% heritable (Posthuma et al. 2002). A recent study shows that Caucasian brains are 4% larger than Black ones (Rushton 1995). Also, if you are intelligent, you are more likely to give birth to an autistic child than a parent of average intelligence (Eldridge 1971).