Read my Scientific American article about the discoveries made when scientists turn data into sound. If you don’t have a Scientific American subscription, you can read the pdf version of the piece.
In my US News article Should You Get Your Genome Mapped?, the costs, considerations, and processes of mapping your genome are outlined. It’s not an easy decision to have your genetic code laid out to determine potential future health issues, so this article aims to help:
So should a person who is free of ailments consider getting his or her genome mapped now, or as soon as the procedure hits the $1,000 mark? The answer appears to be a definite maybe. For some rare diseases like Huntington’s, a single, easy-to-spot mutation means that an individual will inevitably develop the fatal illness. Similarly, certain other gene mutations confer a 60 percent risk that a woman will develop ovarian or breast cancer in her lifetime, five times that of women who lack the flaw. Knowing this, the woman could undergo early screenings for these cancers or even opt for elective surgery before the disease gains a foothold.
Most mutations, though, aren’t of the all-or-nothing type. Instead, they confer only a small increased risk of developing a particular disease. People should keep in mind that such test results have limited value, says Biesecker. Individuals also may not want to know their risk for diseases they can do nothing about. “I’m just really worried about people who don’t know what they’re signing up for and what information they could get back,” she says.