Genetic and environmental risk for chronic pain and the contribution of risk variants for major depressive disorder (MDD): family studies

This findings from this study [see below] are pretty wild. And curious. Authors queried whether genetic factors and the environment you share with your nuclear family, siblings, or spouse––may determine your risk of chronic pain. Depression is also associated with chronic pain, but whether this relationship is explained by shared genetic factors, environment, or some combination of both, is not known.

The study comprised genetic data and family environmental information from Generation Scotland: Scottish Family Health Study and UK Biobank. Using data from the family-based Generation Scotland study, authors found that genetic factors and the environment you share with your partner/spouse are important risk factors for the development of chronic pain. Also, they found that shared genetic and environmental factors can be partly explained by the association between chronic pain and depression. Finally, authors found evidence showing that the genetic contribution to chronic pain arises through the combined effects of many different genetic risk factors. The cumulative effects of genetic risk factors for depression increased an individual’s chance of having chronic pain. Both genetic factors and chronic pain in a partner or spouse contribute to the risk of chronic pain for an individual.

Consequently, we must be very careful about whom we live with, or marry. Thus, chronic pain is caused by an accumulation of many small genetic effects and is associated with some of the same genetic and environmental risk factors that confer risk of depression.

PLoS Med  Aug 2o16; 13: e1002090

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