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Personal Genomic Tests: Do We Know Enough For Them To Be Beneficial?

Think Before You Spit- a woman looking at a test tube

Campaigns against public spitting in the 19th century were largely driven by concerns about the spread of tuberculosis. However, at the beginning of the 21st century, spitting seems to be making a comeback.  Over the past few years, several companies have begun offering personal genomic tests online to the public. There have been famous images of “spit parties”, where celebrities are seen filling tubes with saliva to ship for DNA testing. Getting information on one’s genes has been promoted as fun, as part of social networking, and as a basis for improving health and preventing disease.

When it comes to spitting to improve one’s health, we say: think before you spit.  Our knowledge of the potential benefits and harms of these tests is incomplete at best.  Despite exciting research advances in genomics of common diseases, there is still much to learn about what this information means and how to use it to prevent disease. A little bit of incomplete or inaccurate information may even be harmful.

There are at least 2 key questions to consider when deciding whether personal genomic tests are worth your spit. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Genomics and Health Impact Blog*

Good Health Requires People To Help Themselves

Not every Friday brings doctoring bliss. Sorry.

Some Fridays, the wrongness of our healthcare approach squeezes you like a vice-grip.

The medical news of the week can hit you hard.

–This highly tweeted report on how Overweight is the new normal speaks to the futility of asking people to help themselves. That our strong, vibrant, and proud citizenry is succumbing to fatness saddens me deeply. Building wider doors, heavier toilets and restaurant seats without armrests is the wrong approach to fighting obesity.

–We also learned this week that the advancing fury of medical therapeutics cannot counter high rates of obesity, smoking and inactivity. The WSJ health blog reports life expectancy in some Southern US counties trails that of El Salvador and Latvia.

–The nation’s chief doctor prescribes prevention over treatment, and no one retweets her. Silence.

–And the final egg on the face of wellness was this warning from the FDA: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

Can The Delay Between Cause And Effect Lead To Unhealthy Decisions?

We have all seen people exhibit flagrantly unhealthy behavior. Some of us–though we’d never admit it–derive a certain, smug satisfaction by observing them. At least I don’t do that!

Somewhere in the course of our daily lives though, most of us do exhibit behavior that suggests at least some disregard for our health. We don’t change our diet, though we know we should. We don’t floss, take medications as prescribed, or get the screening tests we’re supposed to.

cheesecakefordessert1 200x300 Does Being Diagnosed with a Chronic Disease Improve Healthy Behavior?Multiple intertwining causes underlie all unhealthy behavior, of course. I had always figured that one pervasive cause was the lack of a simple, observable connection between health-related behaviors and health outcomes. There is a long delay for example, between establishing unhealthy dietary preferences  and the sequellae of that behavior (a heart attack, diabetes or whatever). The longer the delay between cause and effect, the more likely someone will be to exhibit unhealthy behavior.

On the other hand, if there’s a short interval between cause and effect—it only takes minutes for susceptible people to develop a severe allergic reaction after eating peanuts, for example—well, that’s where I’d expect high adherence to the required healthy behavior.

If I’m right, then we have a problem. For many chronic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, some cancers) Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*

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