Genetics Variants and Your Risk of Disease


How your personal genetics impacts your risk of disease

Inside every cell of your body is your DNA, which carries all of the information responsible for your traits — like your eye color, height, and even your risk of disease.


Genetic differences that you are born with are called “variants”.

Genetic variants are differences in your DNA inherited from your parents, and are in all of your cells. Your DNA can also be changed, or mutated, during your lifetime from environmental and lifestyle exposures 8. Learn more about your genetics on our genetics 101 page.

Both genetic variants and genetic mutations can cause genetic diseases, including cancer 9.


Cancer is caused by genetic variants or genetic mutations.


Most cases of cancer have been attributed to genetic mutations resulting from environmental exposures.

parents hereditary icon

A recently discovered type of variant indicates that much more of cancer risk is likely inherited from your parents.

prevent shield icon

These new variants can lead to an increased risk of cancer. However, because of the way this new class of variant works, they are likely to have identifiable triggers, and thus a path for prevention, as well as to act as a guide to selecting the best treatments.

decorative curve

More on genetic differences, risk of disease, and the potential of these new biomarkers

Differences in your DNA are called genetic variants or genetic mutations.

Variants are inherited from a parent, while mutations are changes that develop during your life from external factors 8. Genetic variants that cause disease are referred to as “pathogenic genetic variants”. Diseases caused by genetic differences are called genetic diseases. Cancer is one example of a genetic disease 9.

graphic that shows how environment can lead to mutations which can then lead to cancer
graphic that shows specific variant can be a to higher risk of cancer

In addition to lifestyle choices and environmental factors, a small number of genetic variants have been previously found to increase one’s risk of cancer. These variants include BRCA and CHEK2, and they are present in all of a person's cells 10.

A newly discovered, unique class of inherited genetic variant can impact disease risk, but can also be managed by lifestyle choices.

The potential of these new variants to be managed by lifestyle choices means they are fundamentally different from any previously known genetic variants associated with disease risk.

graphic explaining this new type of variant can be impacted by lifestyle choices for desktop
graphic explaining this new type of variant can be impacted by lifestyle choices

The KRAS-variant is the first example of this unique class of genetic variant associated with cancer.

Research has found a decrease in estrogen, like what women experience during menopause, can trigger the onset of cancer in individuals with the KRAS-variant. If people with the KRAS-variant take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to replace that estrogen loss, they can dramatically reduce their risk of cancer 7.

It’s important to note that the KRAS-variant is much different from the more well-known KRAS mutations, which are genetic mutations that occur during someone’s lifetime that lead to cancer 11.

Another reason this new class of genetic variant is important is that other genetic diseases are likely to be explained by them.

Other diseases run in families, and while external exposures throughout life may trigger them, little is known about what those exposures are, or who may have genetic variants that would be triggered by them.

Discovering more of these types of variants and the external factors that increase the risk of disease is especially exciting, because those risks can potentially be reduced with interventions.

decorative curve

keep learning

The KRAS-variant is an inherited genetic variant. By clicking the link below, you can learn more about the KRAS-variant and how it may affect your health.

sign up for updates

The world of genetics and medicine continues to evolve. Education is one of the foundations of MiraKind. We will provide you regular updates in an easily digestible format.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Any discussion of medical management options on this website is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute a medical recommendation. All medical management decisions should be made based on consultation between each patient and his or her healthcare professional.

arrow up to top