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A genetic adaptation that researchers believe helped circumpolar Inuit populations live on a fat-heavy diet may also contribute some health risks under different conditions, according to a study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics and reported in NunatsiaqOnline a Nunavut news outlet.

The study, based on genetic samples from a population in Northern Siberia, found a gene variant -- CPT1A -- “related to an enzyme involved in the digestion of long fatty acids, found in meat-based diets,” NunatsiaqOnline reported. “Previous studies have linked the presence of that CPT1A to sudden infant death among Inuit in Nunavut, where death from SIDS is 7.4 times the overall Canadian rate, and to hypoglycemia in Alaska.”

One of the scientists working on the project described the variant as “selectively advantageous in the past [but] disadvantageous under current environmental conditions,” according to a statement.

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