DNA of ‘an Entire Nation’ Assessed

James Gallagher, BBC News, March 26, 2015

The genetic code of “an entire nation” has effectively been deduced, say researchers in Iceland.

The feat was performed by combining DNA data with family trees.

The team say they could now find every woman at high-risk of breast cancer “at the touch of a button” and it would be “criminal” not to use the information.

The reports, published in the journal Nature Genetics, used the data to make a suite of discoveries including the age of the last common ancestor of men.

DNA is passed from one generation to the next. If you knew everything about the DNA of a child and their grandparents, you could figure out a lot about about the DNA of the parents too.

The deCODE genetics team has taken the whole genome sequence of 10,000 people and combined it with nation-wide family trees.

“By using these tricks we can predict, with substantial accuracy, the genome of the entire nation,” the chief executive of deCODE, Dr Kari Stefansson told the BBC News website.


Mutations in the BRCA genes lead to a much higher lifetime risk of cancer and led the Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie to have her breasts and ovaries removed.

Dr Stefansson argued: “We could, in Iceland, at the push of a button find all women who carry mutations in the BRCA2 gene.

“This risk could basically be nullified by preventative mastectomies and ovariectomies. It would be criminal not to take advantage of it and I am convinced that my fellow countrymen will begin to use it pretty soon.”

The data is all anonymous at the moment. Using such data in medicine would raise ethical issues, including identifying deadly disease genes in people who never volunteered their own DNA for study.

Dr Stefansson says there is a lot of debate still to come “but I’m just an old-fashioned physician, my gut instinct is simply to go to these people and warn them”.

He is already in discussions with the Icelandic healthcare system.


The 100,000 genomes project in England and President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative both aim to use such genetic information to revolutionise medicine.

Professor Mark Caulfield, the chief scientist at Genomics England, said the studies were “very interesting” and “very elegant”.

He told the BBC: “The team in Iceland is to be congratulated as it has continued, over many years, to contribute to an understanding of the genetic information of disease by looking at the level of the population.”

He said the progress being made around the world showed: “We are on the cusp on the application of transformative genomic medicine at scale”

However, he cautioned that there were many types of BRCA2 mutation and it was important to be certain they were relevant before informing women.

Common dad

The project made a series of other discoveries including a new gene linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

The team has calculated a new estimate for the last common ancestor of all men by looking at the rate of mutation in the male Y-chromosome.

They believe the last common ancestor was 239,000 years ago–down from a previous estimate of 308,000 years ago.

They discovered that in Iceland that 8% of the population is missing all copies of a gene.

This could be harmful, beneficial or have no impact at all. The Icelandic group is starting a study to assess the health of these people.

Dr Susan Wallace, who worked with the Nuffield Council of Bioethics on a report on the use of biomedical data, said: “It sounds like a very exciting study and could bring health benefits to people.

“The concerns are that the data is going to be made public, anonymity technically promises protection, but you can be re-identified in datasets.

“There are also concerns of commercial interests in the use of these databases, so there are a lot of concerns that need to be addressed.

“There needs to be more engagement I think.”

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  • Chip Carver

    What African or Amerindian scientist do we have to thank for this accomplishment?

    • Bossman

      Hey Chip, is your avatar a picture of Charles Bronson? I should remind you that he was cast as an American Indian in many movies which I’ve not yet seen.

      • Reynardine

        Hey Bossman, is your avatar a picture of the Mexican guy who mows my apartment lawn? I should remind you that he frequently eyes small children, many of whom I’ve seen disappear lately.

        • Chip Carver

          Yes, the amerindians and mestizos have quite the penchant for pedophilia. As for Charles Bronson, I suppose the studios wanted someone with at least a bit of talent.

        • Hey, Mexitards are OK. The painters who were here recently left beer (!) cans all over the area, which I policed up and crushed for recycling, as I know of a place nearby that still pays for aluminum. !Muchas gracias, amigos!

          • Rob

            DId they also leave their pee and their spit as well. These mexicans will use any place as a toilet.

          • Ella

            Mexicans like using closets as toilets in houses that they build for a builder.

          • Raymond Kidwell

            I have seen that at a construction site

          • John Smith

            They bottle their urine and sell it as “Corona.”

          • Rob

            No wonder I do not like Corona.

      • Yeah, and Chuck Connors was cast as Geronimo? So your point is?

        • stedman holder

          The point is at the top of his head.

      • stedman holder

        Then how do you know he played in them if you haven’t seen them? Same as the “intelligent Mexicans” you constantly speak of but no has ever seen or heard of.

      • Speedy Steve

        It’s Bronson playing the role of Paul Kersey from Death Wish.

      • Who Me?

        Hey, Bossman,
        Don’t try and make an American of Lithuanian descent into one of your skeezy mestizos. Here’s what Wikipedia says out Charles Bronson:

        Bronson was born Charles Dennis Buchinsky in Ehrenfeld in Cambria County in the coal region of the Allegheny Mountains north of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

        He was the 11th of 15 children born to a Lithuanian immigrant father and a Lithuanian-American mother. His father, Walter Bunchinski (who later adjusted his surname to Buchinsky to sound more “American”, hailed from the town of Druskininkai. Bronson’s mother, Mary (née Valinsky), whose parents were from Lithuania, was born in the coal mining town of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania.
        He learned to speak English when he was a teenager; before that he spoke Lithuanian and Russian.

        Bronson was the first member of his family to graduate from high school. When Bronson was 10 years old, his father died. Young Charles went to work in the coal mines, first in the mining office and then in the mine. He earned one dollar for each ton of coal that he mined. He worked in the mine until he entered military service during World War II. His family was so poor that, at one time, he reportedly had to wear his sister’s dress to school because of his lack of clothing.

        In 1943, Bronson enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and served as an aerial gunner in the 760th Flexible Gunnery Training Squadron, and in 1945 as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress crewman with the 39th Bombardment Group based on Guam. Bronson flew 25 missions and received a Purple Heart for wounds received in battle.

        • John Smith

          Not just Lithuanian, but a Lipka Tatar.

    • APaige

      If not…then was this use of DNA a social construct?

      • Guest


      • Guest

        <<>>>>Beachum>>< Google is

  • dd121

    If you want to find out where you came from, pop for a hundred bucks on 23andMe.

  • journey

    “There are also concerns of commercial interests in the use of these databases” = 90% of the time. Here’s an example: “This risk could basically be nullified by preventative mastectomies and ovariectomies.” How about men? Remove their private parts also?

    “Angelina Jolie to have her breasts and ovaries removed.” Even after mastectomies, CA can re-appear at the location of the breast areas. The symptoms are removed but not the cause = false faith.

    • Irishgirl

      Also, the idea of preventive mastectomies seems a bit extreme to me. Maybe it’s just that it makes me squeamish.

      • journey

        It’s called female mutilation under the guise of modern medicine.

        • Augustus3709

          Supposedly sex hormones can be toxic to the body over time and carcinogenic.

          It would be interesting if in the future the removal of hormonal sex glands after a certain age did indeed become routine.

          • journey

            Surely you jest?

            If not, you mean for the human race to become non-sexual, e.g., either female or male?

            By the way, currently, the medical establishment do not truly have a clear idea why CA occurs. If they did, the heavy usage of chemo (poison) and radiation (burn) would have been eliminated. Read Alex Solzhenitsyn’s Cancer Ward. It’s basically the same attitude toward CA treatment used today except dressed up a bit to look “modern”.

          • Augustus3709

            Sex glands can be a liability later in life, sort of like rotting teeth in the mouth. When they no longer serve a purpose, it might be more common for them to be removed to preëmptively avoid possible tumor growth.

            An article on wikipedia claims that eunuchs live significantly longer than fully equipped men.

            …Not that I’m making any recommendations, but it is interesting when pondering the possible toxicity of sex-hormones.

            For instance, Blacks have the highest sex-hormones, and they also have the shortest lives. Asians are the opposite.

          • journey

            Where did you get the idea sex hormones are toxic?

            Blacks, in general, tend to live shorter lives because they have lower IQ/intelligence = poorer decision making.

          • Augustus3709

            It’s the idea that high concentrations of hormones can maybe stress out the tissue, leading to breakdown of cellular structure, and to mutation ie: tumor growth.

            Environmental factors and diet/quality of food also play a strong role.

            Toxins accumulate in fat tissue. Breasts are bags of fat. Toxic fat + Estrogen may cause breast cancer.

          • journey

            That estrogen causes CA is just a theory. But this theory has led many women to accept chemo and estrogen blockers as a form of treatment along with radiation and mastectomies.

            Environmental factors such as herbicides and pesticides for sure plays a major part in triggering CA. Of course, the chemical companies will fight tool and nail to deny this. There is currently a big battle being raged over glyphosate (Roundup), especially in Europe.

            Diet deficiencies can trigger CA as shown by that raw juices/certain
            diets can “cure” CA.
            Overall, CA is a complex disease.

          • Augustus3709

            Eating food in America is like traversing a minefield.

            There are interesting parallels between the modern day mythologies taught about things like history, race, and also medicine and nutrition, -propaganda disseminated by rich elite.

          • journey

            Extremely difficult to find wholesome fresh food in this
            country. Whole Foods is an expensive sham. Even Farmer’s Markets have been taken over by corporations and non-organic Hispanic growers (in CA).

            I was serious about treating CA with raw juices and diet. It has been shown to work in some CA cases where the cause was due to diet deficiencies caused by various reasons. Some of these dietary deficiencies could be due to the pesticides and herbicides because they were created to disrupt the physiologically functioning of organisms and plants.

            In Europe, non-invasive effective CA treatments are being
            allowed. Some of those methods were actually discovered and developed in this country but killed due to the AMA and big Pharma. To me, it is criminal not to allow other forms of CA treatments, especially since CA is such a complex disease.

  • Tarczan

    So 239,000 years ago. or roughly 1200 generations at 20 years each there was one person who is a descendant of all Icelanders? I’m not sure I believe this.

    • De Doc

      Apparently to all modern human males. The large size of the study allowed them to calculate and estimate mutation rates on the Y-chromosome and interpolate the results to all other human groups.

      • Tarczan

        That is even more unbelievable. All human beings have one common ancestor? they better redo their math.

        • Germanic Depressive

          Potentially possible if we’re talking about a certain male or female who had enough reproductive success at an early enough stage in our species’ existence, when there weren’t many human beings total.

          • InAFreeCountry

            There have been “population bottlenecks” in human genetics as a result of near-extinction events. It is speculated that the last such event, 70,000 years ago, left a human population of 40 from whom we are all descended.

    • Speedy Steve

      Me neither. Iceland was settled in the 7th Century when Saint Brendan sailed to Newfoundland, and points beyond. Even now it’s fewer than half a million souls.

    • InAFreeCountry

      Iceland has one of the most homogenous populations in the world, probably THE most homogenous for White people, but I believe they’re talking about a common ancestor for ALL humans, a genetic Adam.

      • journey

        In regard to Adam, not all humans, just the white race.

    • Peter Connor

      That’s 12,000 generations, not 1,200.

  • MekongDelta69

    Do Africans have DNA?!

    Hey – jes axin’


    • George Moriarty

      Yes, Africans do have DNA. But, remember that an oak tree also has DNA and has about 90% of the same genes as a human being. A primate shares about 99% of its genes with a human. In other words if the genes of a white Icelander are very similar to that of a black African, that is just the way it is. But in my very limited understanding of these things it is the differences in a relatively small number of genes that determine who or what we are.
      Are there any DNA knowledgeable scientists out there who can tell us more?

      • MekongDelta69

        I was k-i-d-d-i-n-g!

        • George Moriarty

          Hello MD69, yes I realise you were kidding but at least you have started a discussion. Perhaps our knowledgeable DNA scientist out there can explain (in terms of DNA) why Icelanders have been able to transform their piece of barren lava in the North Atlantic arctic circle into one of the wealthiest per capita nations on Earth? (While Africans in resource rich countries are still living in poverty and a constant state of warfare)

          • journey

            The inherent racial differences in IQ/intelligence that they will never touch = end of careers, future employment, etc. We are subjected to state control. It’s just a matter of degree and how tolerable.

      • Lygeia

        Of the 4% of the DNA we share with chimpazee, 99% of it is identical.

    • Bossman

      Yeah, African DNA is supposed to be the oldest DNA. This means that they are yo grand daddy.

      • listenupbub

        It also means we have evolved much more than them.

      • Alexandra1973

        Baloney. We all descend from Noah.

        • George Moriarty

          And his sons and their wives. Further reading of that part of the OT makes for some interesting reading in the area of anthropology.

      • stedman holder

        Thanks again for showing us your IQ of 35.

        • jocasseejo

          That’s pretty high for a mexican’t, isn’t it?? Jes Sayin’

    • Charles Martel

      Humans & sea sponges share 50% of DNA

      • Cindy

        Blacks and kitchen sponges share 50% DNA

        • Speedy Steve

          Barrap bap! Rimshot!

        • InAFreeCountry

          It’s implied that kitchen sponges do work.

  • Given that Western governments are the enemy of the white race, and that the medical establishment is controlled by governments in all countries now (Thanks, Obamacare), the potential for evil use of this information is enormous.

    I can easily picture doctors secretly injecting nonwhite genes into white babies in the womb, for example. Or extracting white DNA to inject into black fetuses to create some sort of new hybrid race that is related to the white race to such an extent that whites would have to embrace it.

    Never trust anyone from the government. I think Ronald Reagan said something similar.

    • bv

      They’ve done std tests on blacks a couple of times. The government of today is against whites, so I don’t see a reason why they wouldn’t try something low and underhanded.

      Maybe those survivalists were right all along?

  • Diana Moon Glampers

    Doing this in the US would lead to all sorts of hilarity in the ghetto as the numerous half-sibling breeding pairs would be outed.

    • IstvanIN

      I am convinced that one of the reasons they are devolving so quickly is massive inbreeding of very close, but unknown, relatives.

      • InAFreeCountry

        It makes too much sense on many levels.

      • John Smith

        If you don’t know who your daddy is, how can you know your half-siblings? And then there’s rape by fathers and brothers.

  • George Moriarty

    “It would be criminal not to use this information” (for conducting preventative mastectomies ovary removals …)
    Without belittling the work of scientists in the field of genetic medicine a statement like this does sound really worrying, real “Big Brother” stuff.
    This study should also be questioned as it was done on a nation with a small and totally inbred population and very little racial diversity.

    • Alexandra1973

      To me that smacks a bit of population control…disguised as trying to prevent disease.

    • John Smith

      That restricted gene pool is what made this possible.

  • Jason Lewis

    Iceland could mix that dna up some. Just join the European Union and they’ll be dumping Somalians off within hours.

    • InAFreeCountry

      They’ve made it this far without blacks. Or surnames, for that matter.

      • John Smith

        They do have some Native American DNA – either a slave woman from Vinland or one dropped off by a trading ship.

        • InAFreeCountry

          I did not know that.

        • Alexandra1973

          Likely Eskimo (the actual Eskimo).

          • John Smith

            No, the genetic markers aren’t found in Inuits.

  • Ella

    “There are also concerns of commercial interests in the use of these databases,” and it gives the upper-hand to insurance companies to charge you 3-5X’s higher rates for having risks that may not ever develop into a disease. Now, we will all have a “disease” or genetic defect. I feel sick…….

    • Michael Robert Ryan

      There was a sci-fi move titled “Gattaca” that explored the possibilities of this, taken to its extreme. It was pretty good.

  • Light from the East

    They studied the whole sequence of 10000 people in order to get accuracy. But when it comes to the application, for example, medicine, the BRCA genes lead to a much higher lifetime risk of cancer. That is, one genetic pair mutation out of 3 billion pairs leads to the serious result. Since the average genetic difference between Africans and non-Africans is 0.5%, 15,000,000 pairs of genes, you can imagine how large is the gap.

  • haroldcrews

    I’m not sure of the dating of the last common ancestor in this article or study since Homo sapiens is generally considered to have evolved only 200,000 years or so ago. That would mean some of us in the Homo genus aren’t Homo sapiens which I don’t think the author would agree.

  • Hilis Hatki

    Life at the human level is a disaster, now they want to micro manage it. Now we can design perfect people. Maybe the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Which is why DNA is so similar across the species.

  • bustermosson

    I’m sure that in the future insurance companies will deny coverage to people who show a “Possibility” of poor health or life expectancy because of their ancestry.