By: Cristian Gonzalez
DNA is the set of instructions that determines much of who we are. We are able to read this set of our own instruction thanks to the international Human Genome Project . Finished in 2003, the HGP was the first time that researchers were able to read, base pair by base pair, a whole human sequence at an estimated cost of three billion dollars. New technologies are being researched to reduce the cost in order for anyone to be able to get their genes sequenced. You might be thinking, why bother? Well, sequencing important parts of our genome could reveal whether you’re at a high risk for otherwise preventative issues. Customizing medicine based on this genetic premise would improve the cost effectiveness of treatment and prevention .
Breast cancer, while still uncertain, is a type of disease that is theoretically predictable through a patient’s genome . From 2003, advancements in technology allow sequencing to be a powerful method for disease prevention. The relationship between our genome and our well-being is only becoming more accurate with improved sequencing . Genomic medicine is a relatively new field but is already showing its influence on cancer treatment, general drug use, disease concerning diagnosis and infection . Many preventable diseases, however, may be treated by healthy lifestyle changes. Diabetes, amongst other diseases like hypertension or high cholesterol, is a disease that is influenced both by genetic risk and environmental or lifestyle variables. The problem that research is still addressing is linking the genes with susceptibility to Type 1 and 2 diabetes as there are many contenders [6, 7]. Medication and insulin replacement therapy should not be looked over if you require it, but for preventative measures for those that are at a higher risk should consider lifestyle changes. In a relevant study with overweight adults with compromised glucose tolerance, nutritional modification, weight loss and exercise resulted by a 58% decreased rate of diabetes .
There are issues that may arise from these discoveries however. When searching for health insurance, if companies have access to your genome, they could discriminate against you if you have a higher risk to disease. A suggestion could be to inform yourself about possible negative bias and if there are any laws in place to protect yourself from that bias. Currently, the best it is to stay informed and decide for yourself when this form of personalized medicine is cost effective to you and your family.
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