Outsmart Your Genes

Until now, our primary means of dealing with illness has been to wait until it appears and then try to treat it, often by drastic, debilitating, and painful means. But the best way to defeat disease will always be to avoid it altogether. We can do just that by studying our genetic code and using its information to take control of our destiny.
Many of us go through life assuming that we’re either blessed or doomed by our genetic inheritance. I’m sure you’ve heard people say things like, “I got my great memory from my mom,” or “I can’t lose weight; it’s just in my genes. Both my parents are overweight.” But the groundbreaking news is that, even if your genetic inheritance has put you at increased risk for a disease, science now has the means to help you alter, minimise, and perhaps entirely avoid your current genetic destiny.
With the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 and recent advancements in DNA testing and analysis, it is now possible to predict which diseases you are likely to contract so that you can take steps to lower and possibly eliminate your risk.
The key is that almost all chronic disease results from a combination of genetic and nongenetic factors (such as what types of food you eat and your other lifestyle choices). Hence, understanding your genes gives you the insight necessary to identify and selectively modify your nongenetic risk factors, thereby decreasing your overall risk of disease.

Conventional Western medicine has been criticised for being reactive rather than proactive because it usually doesn’t take the offensive in attempting to prevent disease. Instead, Western medicine is primarily defensive because it tries to cure people of diseases they’ve already contracted. But with the new, revolutionary medical speciality called preventive medicine, that no longer is true. The mandate of preventive medicine is twofold: to determine your personal genetic profile and, most importantly, to provide you with the means to fight off potential illness before it occurs.

The Power of DNA Testing and Preventive Medicine


There’s no point in learning your genetic risk for a particular disease because there’s nothing you can do about it.


If you discover that you are at increased risk for a disease, you can take actions to decrease the likelihood that you will get the disease or limit its impact on you if it should ever manifest. And, in all cases, you will be alerted to diseases you might pass on to your children. If you know you’re at risk, there are things you can do about it!

Know Your Genetic Makeup and Take Charge of Your Future

Your genetic makeup—the genes you inherited from your parents—holds the secrets to your destiny. Not only the colour of your eyes and hair and your musical or athletic abilities but also thousands of other factors related to your appearance, health and how you interact with the world are all determined, in whole or in part, by your genetics.
Your genes determine how fast your metabolism works and how you process the calories you consume, which, in turn, determines how much fat you have around your abdomen and, to a significant degree, how much you weigh. Genetics are also responsible for how your body processes medications, whether you’ll experience side effects from a particular drug, what dose you require, and whether the drug will be effective at all.
Your genetic makeup even determines your basic personality traits, such as whether you’re a risk-taker, shy or outgoing, how you handle stress, and even if you’re more inclined to keep anger bottled up or let it out. Some traits, such as eye and hair colour, are determined entirely by genetic inheritance.
For other characteristics, such as intelligence and height, your genes define the range of possibilities, and non-genetic factors, such as your education and lifestyle, determine where you ultimately fall within that range.
For example, your genes may dictate that your adult height will be between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 11 inches, but your actual adult height is also determined by non-genetic factors, such as the kind of nutrition you receive while growing up.
Most importantly, your genes, either in whole or in part, determine whether you are at risk for specific diseases. Even your risk of contracting infectious diseases, ranging from the flu to HIV, is determined partly by your genes.

Preventive medicine is the component that makes genetic testing actionable

With the completion of the Human Genome Project and the advent of the powerful technologies now available for DNA testing, scientists have the ability to decode and analyse your genetic makeup and predict what diseases you are at risk for developing. But unless your genetic information is made actionable, your decoded genome is no more useful than a high-tech paperweight.

Preventive medicine is the component that makes DNA testing actionable, and it is a new medical speciality. When a physician believes that a patient needs a radiological examination such as an MRI or a CAT scan, they refer the patient to a doctor specifically trained in radiology to perform the test.

The radiologist then reads this test and supplies the referring physician with a written report. The report is what makes the test actionable for the physician—which is exactly what predictive medicine does in the field of genetics. Physicians can integrate predictive medicine services into their practice just as they do radiologic exams and laboratory tests.
The DNA report provides an analysis that identifies the patient’s risk for various diseases and specifies preventive measures that have been shown to decrease the risk or minimise the impact of those diseases. Even the preventive measures themselves can now be genetically tailored to your DNA.
When your doctor receives your genetic report, they can work with you to take actions that will minimise your risk and perhaps even prevent you from ever developing the diseases for which you are at risk. Keep this in mind: Just because you have a gene that increases your risk for a particular disease does not necessarily mean you have or will ever contract the disease.
What it does mean is that your genes predispose you to that disease. But you might also find out that you do not have any of the genes associated with a particular disease. For example, if you find you do not have any harmful changes in the genes BRCA1, BRCA2, CHEK2, ATM, and FGFR2, all of which are linked to breast cancer, you might feel significant relief. You may even discover that you have a beneficial genetic makeup that protects you from and lowers your risk of certain diseases.