Public health practice has to date concerned itself with environmental or social determinants of health and disease and has paid scant attention to genomic variations within the population. The advances brought about by genomics are changing these perceptions. In the long run, this knowledge will enable health promotion messages and disease prevention programmes to be specifically directed at susceptible individuals and families, or at subgroups of the population, based on their genomic risk profile. As the controversial discourse in science and health politics shows, the integration of genomics into public health research, policy and practice is one of the major challenges that our health-care system is currently facing.
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