It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about genetics. I usually don’t read SELF Magazine but I happened to grab a copy for some easy reading. I didn’t realize until after I bought it that there was a section (7 pages) about genetics.
Healthy Days Ahead! Easy, effective ways to make the most of your unique DNA. Hallie Levine Sklar
This article starts out talking about how many genetic conditions are caused by environmental and genetic factors (aka multifactorial/complex diseases). This point was addressed several times throughout the article. I was glad to see that it was addressed because many people think genetics is black/white and their genes determinate 100% of their health. Whereas that is not always the case; genetics is very gray. Just because you have a gene for a certain genetic condition (e.g. cancer) doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s 100% for sure you will develop it.
The article then goes on to talk about how to do your own personal family history intake for heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, blood clots, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. There are little notes about why it’s important to record the age of diagnosis in each family member. I have to admit I did cringe a bit when I realized that SELF Magazine was asking their readers to do their own family history intake to assess their own personal risk. However, I was glad they mentioned genetic counseling a few times and the importance of genetic counseling for family history of early onset cancers. Apparently, they even contacted the president of NSGC (National Society of Genetic Counselor).
Then, readers can use the “handbook” to learn more about each condition (heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, blood clots, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer). It was interesting to read page after page of what women can do to reduce their risk of developing each of those conditions even if they’re predisposed to it. I think it gives readers a sense of power and control that they don’t always feel like they have when it comes to assessing their genetic risk based on their family history.
A few quotes from the article:
“Genes aren’t the boss of your health–you are. Override your DNA.”
“75% of the factors that affect your life span are in your hands get motivated to stretch out your year.”
“Only about one fourth of the variation in human life span can likely be attributed to genetics.”
There were a few brief articles within the “handbook.” One article I found particularly interesting was Tempted by an at-home gene test? The results could lead to a bigger life change than you bargained for. Read on before you swab by Rebecca Adams. Rebecca writes about how there are almost 3 dozen companies that offer mail-in DNA tests and touches on a few concerns. One major concern is that while the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) was passed last year it does not apply to life insurance companies. Regardless of GINA, some genetic-testing companies can still give your DNA information and name to marketers. Rebecca also emphasizes the importance of contacting a medical geneticist or genetic counselor to discuss the process of undergoing a genetic test and the implications that it may have. “Without guidance, Dr. Evans says, ‘testing results are arguably worthless.'”
While this article does try to give women the power of education and the sense that they have some control, it does emphasize the importance of consulting with a geneticist/genetic counselor.
The article can be found at: