Re: Diabetes genetic disease among both Ashkenazim and Sephardim #rabbinic

Charles Nydorf <cnydorf@...>

Dear Siggers
If I remember correctly >from my genetic classes, close cousin
marriage is a two-edged sword. It will tend to keep a gene at a stable
frequency in the community except when, as in the case of Tay-Sachs,
the gene is lethal when inherited >from both parents (the unfortunate
child is homozygous). Homozygotes don't pass on the gene and if there
are enough of them, because of close interbreeding, the gene should
actually grow rarer.
Also if I am not mistaken, diabetes has a multi-genetic
causation and the case that Jews or other populations have a higher
genetic propensity for it has not quite been proved.

Charles Nydorf

Marriage of cousins was quite common and not just in rabbinical
families. It was not just to preserve yichus. In many cases it was
also to keep money in the family and/or to be certain there had not
been any intermarriage or mental illness. Marrying a stranger posed
more of a risk. Marriages between cousins may have contributed to the
very high rate of diabetes among Jews both Sephardi and Ashkenazi.
We must remember there was no insulin in the 19th century and we have
no idea how many deaths were related to diabetes. This is far more
prevalent than Tay Sachs. Today diabetes is still a major killer with
its high prevalence of heart and kidney disease. Untreated diabetes
can also lead to mental illness and depression.

Sandra Levy - Jerusalem
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