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QUESTION: It seems that there are no health advantages to being a non-secretor! Do you have any guesses why 20 percent of the population would be burdened with this condition?
ANSWER: You're right. It appears the vast majority of difficulties are associated with a non-secretor allele. Whether or not this is a purely detrimental influence, I cannot say at this point. There are a couple positives: You tend to have less lectin-related food problems, and your white blood cells tend to be more aggressive when combatting some types of cancer. On the other hand, there are a lot of metabolic problems associated with a non-secretor. Whereas non-secretors may make up between 15 to 20 percent of the population, they probably account for up to 70 percent of the people I see in my clinic -- principally because of metabolic problems, gut permeability issues, and chronic infectious disease susceptibilities.
Interestingly, what appears to be the natural selection of the non-secretor gene may have been a rather left-handed health benefit. It appears that non-secretor children who carried the gene for diabetes tended to die in utero or in very early life. Sadly enough, this may have been a benefit to our ancestors. For, in the opposite situation, with the child having lived but having been chronically ill, they would have represented quite a drain on the resources of the community. Perhaps it acted as a type of suicide gene.
Though one of the nice things about knowing you're a non-secretor, or that you're Type A or Type O, is that despite all the bad news, at least you know it! Since the really bad news would be to not know that there was bad news! [laughs] I only wish I knew more bad news about the other blood types.