99% chance of Alzheimer's Disease
April 21, 2014 6:01 AM Subscribe
Chatting casually with a bioinformatician yesterday, I was told that I have 99% chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease, based only on my mother and father’s nationalities. How should I take this claim?
posted by mister_kaupungister to Science & Nature (27 answers total)
Yesterday I was talking to a friend of a friend, who is an academic bio-informatician. Early in the conversation I happened to mention that I have an English mother and a father from the Caribbean island state of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Later in the conversation he told me, on the basis of the above information that I have a 99% chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease in later life. (I wasn’t asking.)
My question is, does he really have a sound basis for making that claim, given the information I gave him? The estimate of the probability of me developing Alzheimer’s disease is 99% conditional only on my parental nationalities?
Obviously I would like the answer to be no. But this is this guy’s academic speciality.
I did not tell him this: but, as far as I know, all of my grandparents lived to their 70s and 80s and did not develop Alzheimer’s disease. Also, I did not mention to him that my maternal grandmother was not English but Austro-Hungarian. (Presumably, he was making certain assumptions about my parental heritage.)
Perhaps there is a more nuanced interpretation which he skipped over. Like, “conditional upon not dying of something else first you have a 99% chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease from age X” ?
Could there be a wide confidence interval for this probability?
(The guy also said he himself had a 95% chance of developing the disease –but he had analysed his own genetics.)
So, how seriously should I take what he said, and how should I interpret it? (I should have dug deeper in the conversation but I was kind of shocked.)