[extropy-chat] (health) risks and benefits along a bell curve ?

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Fri Mar 17 15:01:54 UTC 2006

Lee's point is valid.  When you are dealing with something like the human
body there are lots of examples that can be cited where it is very tolerant
of certain  mistreatments up to a point.  Beyond that things get bad, in
some cases quite rapidly.   (Though I *would* be curious if radiation
poisoning could be treated aggressively using very creative methods -- large
quantity stem cell therapy for example.)

You have the problem of comparing apples and organges.  You have ~150 genes
alone involved in just DNA repair.  Each individual may have variations
(polymorphisms) involved in those genes.  If you have the defective (or
slow) variants you are at much higher risk than others.  For example people
who have Xeroderma Pigmentosum which involves 6-8 genes who are exposed to
even small amounts of UV radiation have significantly increased rates of
skin cancer.   However for the average person, unless you are exposed to
really high levels of UV radiation skin cancer is not a problem.  Another
example is that there is some toxin metabolic process that some people have
which appears to metabolize some compound in cigarette smoke into something
that protects them from Parkinson's disease (so if you have genes that
protect you from lung cancer you probably don't have to worry about PD).

So you cannot assume that the bell curve statistics apply to oneself because
people showing up early on the distribution curve most likely have genetic
susceptibilities.  People showing up late (e.g. supercentenarians older than
110) probably have relatively speaking "perfect" genomes and could generally
do things that might be very harmful to the "average" person.

The best bet is to look at what susceptibilities one has in ones family and
focus on those.  In a few years (perhaps by 5, definitely by 10) you will be
able to have tests done to determine what your genetic susceptibilities are
which will give you a much better handle on things.

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