Are diabetes, heart disease and cancer risk determined by our genes?
The other night I went to a little presentation by Navigenics, where the topic of the evening centered around predictive genomics testing, genetic predisposition and the idea of personalized medicine.
To my mind, the subject is not so easy to discuss because how genes behave is heavily influenced by the environment you put them in, from what we eat to what we live in. Personally, I’m happy about that, because self direction is empowering.
But, nevertheless, we talked about how the evolution of genomics is upon us. Coming to a doctors office near you. Knowledge never more to be an unattainable mystery…
And, perhaps useful in actually helping people achieve better health.
We’ve been seeing predictive genomics testing companies, like 23andMe, cropping up all over the place. What is different about the Navigenics plan?
As opposed to companies that offer large numbers of SNP’s , as these little “snippets” of genetic information are called, Navigenics offers a core group of SNP’s that correlate best with chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, as well as some cancers. The idea being that it is most useful to test for things that you can then institute preventive intervention for. And, to do that through your doctor, who is in a position to help, whether it be through behavioral change, a medication regimen or screening tests. In the case of functional and integrative medicine, the preventive strategy is even broader and more holistic.
Ahhhh. But shouldn’t we all be doing all that preventive stuff anyway?
Yes. We should. With should being the key word here.
But a funny thing happens when people are actually presented with their genetic proclivities. Like a very seductive behavioral carrot stick…it actually gets people to behave better. To take action.
OK. Well, how much out of pocket health care money is it worth? Because, it’s not covered by health insurance. Who will benefit the most and who will be interested?