Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Study Shows Genomic Counseling Results in Lifestyle Changes

While there has been lot of attention paid to the incredible pace of advancement in sequencing technology, there is growing discussion around the medical value of the data. Knowing that you carry a certain allele for disease risk may be interesting, but what do you do with that data? Do you change lifestyle? Do you begin a proactive course of medication? What is appropriate and who helps you understand the data and the potentially difficult choices it creates? There has even been concern that individuals, upon finding out they are at higher risk for a disease, would "give up", resulting in decreased quality of health.

A recent study by the Coriell Institute finds that:
"People who find out they have high genetic risk for cardiovascular disease are more likely to change their diet and exercise patterns than are those who learn they have a high risk from family history, according to preliminary research."
It's interesting to see that genetic testing appears to have the potential to be more motivating for patients than traditional sources of similar information, though it's hard to know whether it's a function of the novelty of the data or something more lasting. It's also important to note that there appears to have been high quality counseling associated with this study, which is widely seen as a critical to appropriate use of genetic data.

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