The Genetics of Health [Interview][Transcript]

Dr_Sharad_Paul_genetics_healthGuest: Dr. Sharad P. Paul
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Dr. Sharad P. Paul, MD is a skin cancer surgeon, skincare expert, evolutionary biologist, author, and an adjunct professor at Aukland University of Technology. Born in England, with a childhood in India, he is a global citizen who lives Down Under and is the author of the book, The Genetics of Health (Simon and Schuster, April 2017)

Segment overview: In this segment Dr. Sharad Paul, author of the upcoming book, “The Genetics of Health,” discusses how genetics affect our health and wellness, and even how we respond to treatment of illnesses.

Health Professional Radio – Genetics of Health


Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to the program. I’m your host Neal Howard. Thank you for joining us here on this Health Supplier Segment here on Health Professional Radio. I’m talking today with Dr. Sharad Paul, evolutionary biologist and author of the book entitled, ‘The Genetics of Health.’ He’s here with us to talk about how genetics affect our health, wellness and even how we can respond to treatment of illnesses on a genetic level. Welcome to Health Professional Radio, Dr. Paul.

Dr. Sharad Paul: Thank you, my pleasure.

N: Great. Thanks for coming. You’re an evolutionary biologist. Talk a little bit about your background and how you came to be an evolutionary biologist?

P: It’s quite interesting because first of all, I think, like you said, I’m a skin cancer specialist and one thing with skin is it’s our only, universal organ. All creatures have skin. We have many animals which have no brains or hearts but everyone’s got skin. I guess in studying the origins of skin, one of my previous books that’s actually called, ‘Skin Biography’. That was the first reason I got interested in the origins of skin and evolutionary biology behind skin to start from cells. Secondly, I actually also asked to operate on animals. When the animals get skin tumors, I have often, have operated on TriMet and Bramer or Orangutans. I guess in studying these conditions and human conditions and seeing the links between them and how skin has evolved, I guess all the time, it’s becoming another interest.

N: Now, you’ve authored a book due out this month as a matter of fact call, ‘The Genetics of Health’. Why did you write a book entitled, ‘The Genetics of Health?’

P: I think it was really an extension of looking at how our genes affect our own lifestyle as well as how our lifestyle shape our genes. I was looking at going back on this evolution biology as being over 50,000 years as humankind has migrated all across the planet and adapt a different diet. We’ve all not only activated and expressed new genes but also, so you know, sometimes because of a life-health past, we’ve actually inherited themselves. For example in Asia, a lot of people who hunt together, … farming, so they automatically more age and so are lactose intolerant and Europeans. That’s a simple example and also if you look at origins, why they’re on lactose for example, you can find that when there was a famine in Europe and that was the time for a mutation where people began to be able to digest milk because those who couldn’t digest milk kind of the first time people tend to milk in desperation they actually died. So really these things said, watch humans dead but another way of looking it, it also continue to shape our bodies. And really the basic reason why I first got interested in it, it is because if you’ll think about it, one cannot have good skin and bad health. We’re really looking on that area.

N: In your practice, the skin, it’s everywhere, I just say on our body. Are there are different types of skin cancer? Or is it basically the same just in a different location on the body?
P: Yes. There are many different types of skin cancers. The most common one is of course what we call, ‘Basal Cell Skin Cancers’ and the more lethal ones are what we hear more about what we call, ‘Melanomas’, which is actually a tumor of melanin producing cells. The skin does others to give us a skin color. Everything in the body has to do with environment and genetics. In some ways, like I said in tumors, you have a genetic predisposition but you also will have environmental factors. For skin cancer, the major factor is of course sunlight or sunburns. One way of looking at it, how you predict, how a tumor will look as it is, if you think about when somebody goes in the sun as their defense mechanism, skin tends to tan. So the colour of that is, that if you were together tumor from sunlight, it will automatically be excessively tanned, in other words dark-light melanoma. We do have many other types of skin cancer, even some not that like basal cell cancers, we have squamous cell cancers and many other types of tumors. But fundamentally, the large part have been related to sun exposure and of course, a little bit of genetics as well.

N: You mentioned that people can be genetically predisposed for certain types of cancers, certain types of ailments and things to that nature. Can we also be genetically predisposed for certain diets or exercise if I don’t respond well to weightlifting, it may respond well to distance running or vice versa? Can we find out genetically what is best for us as it pertains to diet and exercise?

P: Absolutely. In fact, you hit upon me. Actually my real favorite thing, I actually developed 21 gene tests which does exactly, that’s at the back of my book, ‘The Genetics of Health’ as information on how you can order the test. But fundamentally, one chapter on this book is about eating for your gene type. There’s also a chapter on movement which talks about our gene type and exercise. We can do gene test which can tell you, “Are you predisposed to endurance exercise or power exercise?”. In other words, which will be more beneficial for you? We can also even do little things like even value exercising. We also know that is a strong genetic predisposition for people getting, I can list candidate, injuries for example. So, of course, people, it’s more important to have appropriate orthotic and things like that. Absolutely, with regards to diet, I mean there’s a whole range of things. There are some people who can eat all unsaturated fat they want and not put on weight. For example, that’s one of the reasons why the story wrote by French women, the one who don’t get fat is, when they look at those populations who are largely in addition to them doing things like walking a lot is very strong really. If you have the gene which we know reduces the risk of obesity when you reach saturated fat. There is actually a genetic predisposition why certain countries, skinnier than certain countries. Absolutely, one can actually learn to eat for your gene type.

N: What about genetic predispositions for certain attitudes when it comes to health and wellness, diet and food, are we genetically predisposed to certain mindset when it comes to health? Is that a possibility as well?

P: Absolutely. One chapter in this book is called, ‘Sluggish Genes’ and we we’re looking at these laziness and procrastination inherited. The funny thing is, one thing I must quote is in, while we’re talking about genetics, gene is our blueprint but they’re not destiny. In other words, one can work hard enough and you will overcome any, I supposed it’s like saying parents or childhood or whatever, you can always overcome that with your attitudes. I think it’s the same with genes to some degree. It wouldn’t necessarily, but having said that, you are right that when studies go down in procrastination, we knew it’s a survival gene because at the times, when they were more predators, the people who are still in the caves, they’re refusing to go to take on a sabertooth tiger, but they were still saying, “My spear is not sharp enough.”. These days are wild because they’ve never ended up fighting any battle. So they lived to propagate their genes. So it is, we do know that, we in fact, in this 21 gene test, one of the things that I also test for is, it actually automatically cause your motivation to exercise. So finally enough, we can genetically pick the people who are more likely to need more help but claimed undertaking exercise and going to the gym.

N: Talk about age as a factor when it comes to skincare, there seems to be, there are some folks that for lack of a better term, age so gracefully, their skins seems to be radiant all the time. You find out that there’s 70 or even 80 years old. While some of us, tend to look a bit older in our 40s and 50s. How much does age play a factor? And can that be predetermined genetically as well?

P: Yes. Although, I would say that a large part of it is in mental. So if you look at the three biggest causes why, the thing the biggest cause of ageing is actually, photoaging because of sunlight. In places where people have a lot of sun exposure, their skin obviously ages more. The second factor is of course, smoking and other kind of industrial exposure to toxins. And the third, because our skin has … which protects us, so it’s actually constantly exposed to the environment. The third thing is that, interestingly, stress levels because we know that the emotional stress or physical stress like injury or illness also affects your skin because it stimulates its molecular pathology. I think if you ask the 3S would be reducing stress, reducing sun exposure and not smoking would be the three most important things you can do if you want to look younger other than things, skin specialist like me. Just kidding. You work a lot (laughs).

N: Where can our listeners get more information about you doctor?

P: They can just go to my website, just and they can also get in touch if they wish to.

N: Thank you so much. Our guest in studio today is Dr. Sharad Paul, skin cancer surgeon, skin care expert, and evolutionary biologist. Also the author of the soon to be released book, ‘The Genetics of Health’, published through Simon & Schuster, available April of this year 2017. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at and also at You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes. Listen in and download at SoundCloud.

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