The exposome is the cumulative measure of an individual’s lifetime exposures from environmental and occupational sources and their impact on health. It encompasses interactions between exposures from the environment, diet, lifestyle, etc., and an individual’s unique characteristics such as genetics, physiology, and epigenetics.

This concept underscores the complexity of interactions between external exposures and internal factors, including genetics and epigenetics, in shaping an individual’s health. In a study done in 2014, the CDC has stated that only about ten percent of disease can be directly attributed to our genes (CDC, 2014):

“One of the promises of the human genome project was that it could revolutionize our understanding of the underlying causes of disease and aid in the development of preventions and cures for more diseases. Unfortunately, genetics has been found to account for only about 10% of diseases, and the remaining causes appear to be from environmental causes. So to understand the causes and eventually the prevention of disease, environmental causes need to be studied.”

In 2014, the CDC released an MMWR report on the annual number of potentially preventable deaths from 5 leading causes of death in the US: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, cerebrovascular diseases (stroke), and unintentional injuries. The CDC report acknowledges that “death rates are population health outcome measures that reflect the combined influences of multiple biological and social health determinants, public health efforts, and medical care.”

This report also acknowledged that most human disease results from the interaction of our genetic susceptibility with environmental and behavioral risk factors, such as diet, physical activity, infectious agents and the physical environment.

In this, we can recognize that genetics alone accounts for a small percentage of diseases, and a more comprehensive understanding must include environmental and external causes studied through the exposome. New fields like epigenetics are blurring the boundaries between genetic and environmental factors. Also, we are finding not only how our genes influence our response to the environment but also how our environment affects gene expression and transmission throughout life and across generations.

For these concepts applied, check out our immersive self-study  in our Mind Body Reset program or our Foundations program for continuous exploration and support!


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, August 19). Exposome and Exposomics. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.