Tuesday, March 08, 2005

DNA or Not to DNA, That is the Question

I was watching Good Morning America, which I usually glance at before leaving for work, and this morning I was caught by a piece of do it at home DNA Testing. Apparently you can write away, and get a DNA Kit, whereby you can test your DNA in the privacy of your own home. You just swab your cheek and then put in a padded envelope and then send it off to a lab. No dealing with Doctors, or having people know your business. You can get the results of genetic testing sent right to you. You can find out if you are genetically predisposed to any number of diseases.

Diane Sawyer had a company representative, as well as a Doctor who kind of looked like the doctor from Celebrity Fitness on VH-1. The DNA Direct representative was tolling the virtues of her company's product. Before the actual interview, there was an interview with a woman, who didn't want her identity known, who had found out that she was predisposed to breast cancer and had scheduled a radical masectomy and plastic surgery to reconstruct new breasts.

Dr. Katz, the VH-1 Doctor, was not to happy with the DNA Direct woman. He felt that having this information without proper couseling or a doctor's advice could lead people to panic and either not seek treatment, or choose the radical option that the unknown woman had chosen.

I agree with Dr. Katz. Knowledge is Power, but a little knowledge can also go a long way. If you don't really know what the DNA information means, it can lead to all sorts of problems. If you know that you have certain health problems in your family, it behooves you to talk to a doctor, or do your research before you are tested. You should already be taking care of your health if you know that, for example, obesity runs in your family.

Be prepared for both scenarios. Don't go into doing the DNA test blind. And have the results checked by a doctor. Don't just rely on what the lab report says. Mistakes can be made. Better yet get more than one opinion before you make any decisions that are irrevocable. Know that just because you are genetically predisposed, that doesn't mean that you will develop the disease. Just like not every smoker develops Cancer or emphysema, there is a possibility that you won't develop whatever disease you might be disposed to.

With all the new developments in science, we have to be careful. Common sense should not be ignored.

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