Thursday, November 1, 2012

"Why I Don’t Want to Know My Genome Sequence"

"Why I Don't Want to Know My Genome Sequence"

Kind of interesting to read this as someone who at least has his own exome sequenced and has learned a lot from it. It's kind of interesting to read it in contrast to my own post explaining why I wanted to sequence myself.

It ends with a funny statement:
An osteoarthritis mutation manifested itself as an inability to play an F chord at age 33. A p53 mutation and then another that bloomed in response to years of orthodontia X-rays gave me thyroid cancer a few years after I gave up the guitar. And I don’t need a genetic test to know I didn’t inherit my father and grandfather’s psychotic depression. 
Ron Crystal, even though he’s among the sequenced, has the right idea: don’t smoke, exercise, eat a healthy diet, and don’t worry about DNA sequences. That’s good enough for me – at least for now.
This is one of those statements used to make one's self feel better about not doing something he or she wants to do. That's my feeling, at least.

To be more specific, let's use myself.

Sure, I could have lived my life thinking my borderline migranes were from caffeine withdrawel and my mother and not bothered to find out the exact mutations likely to cause it and therefore which drugs may actually have a beneficial effect on me. I could have. But I didn't.

I could have lived my life thinking my intestinal issues were due to a bad diet or food allergies. Because clearly copious amounts of salad, low fat, low carb, low salt is a bad diet, right? And clearly my wife who eats the same things and has zero gastrointestinal issues is just lucky. Oh no, it must be food allergies. It couldn't possibly be that I inherited two mutations, one from each parent, that damage a particular gene already known to be causative for gastrointestinal problems (among a number of other things that I happen to have that most general practitioners wouldn't link together).

I could have survived without knowing I have asthma. Maybe.

I mean, go ahead and live in ignorance if that's your thing. If you're not interested in your own genetics, then fair enough. You're not alone. But it was damn reassuring to me, personally, to figure out exactly what genes are mutated and how those are causing conditions that negatively effect me.

And I would say not only am I healthier, but I'm also more aware of my health. And that's a good thing.

And that genetic information isn't going to expire.

Anyway, let's not devalue our genetics this way. The fact that we don't know everything yet doesn't make the data itself less valuable. Yes, it will take effort to understand but then again, so does nearly everything about your health and life.

I see it as a great thing.