2009 Blog Highlights – Part 1

Today we’re going to look back at some of the health-related Blog highlights (a completely subjective list!) of 2009.


Millions of people worldwide are chronically infected with some form of hepatitis virus, putting them at risk for cirrhosis and liver cancer.   In 2009 several studies identified genetic factors that influence susceptibility to hepatitis and response to treatment. SNPwatch: Immune System Variations May Determine Susceptibility To Chronic Hepatitis B Infection SNPwatch: Genetic Variation Predicts Hepatitis C Treatment Success SNPwatch: More Evidence That Genetic Variations are Important for Hepatitis C Infection and Treatment


A study published in March offered insight into why melanoma, a rare but potentially deadly form of skin cancer, is more common in women under 40 than men in the same age group. SNPwatch: Genetic Variation May Explain Why Young Women Are At Greater Risk For Melanoma Compared to Young Men

Alcohol Flush and Esophageal Cancer

Also in March, researchers issued a warning to physicians about the connection between “alcohol flush” and esophageal cancer. Researchers Warn That Physicians Need To Ask About Alcohol “Flushing” To Reduce Esophageal Cancer Risk

Cystic Fibrosis Severity

Two studies in 2009 looked at how the severity of disease experienced by people with cystic fibrosis can be impacted by changes in genes other than CFTR. SNPwatch: Genetic Variation That Reduces Immune Cell Activity May Lessen Severity of Lung Damage in Cystic Fibrosis Patients SNPwatch: Genetic Flaw that Causes Rare Metabolic Condition May Also Increase Risk of Severe Liver Disease in Cystic Fibrosis


In September a study found variants associated with glaucoma in people with African ancestry, a population that develops glaucoma at rates five times higher than Europeans and is also at much higher risk of blindness once glaucoma has set in. SNPwatch: Common Variants May Influence Glaucoma Risk in Individuals of African Descent

Cisplatin-induced Hearing Loss

Just last month, researchers published results showing that certain genetic variants increase the risk for hearing loss in children after treatment with a common chemotherapy drug. SNPwatch: Genetic Variations May Impact Risk of Hearing Loss in Children Receiving Common Chemotherapy Drug


The bacteria that causes leprosy is hard to study, but researchers have learned more about susceptibility to the disease by studying human genetics. SNPwatch: Genetic Association Study of Leprosy Yields New Insights into an Ancient Disease