If we could test every infant’s DNA at birth, we could predict what future diseases they might have and guard against them early–right? Wrong!
In the April 3rd edition of the New York Times, Gina Kolata quotes researcher Bert Vogelstein as saying, "The punch line is that this sort of personalized medicine will not in any way be the most important determinant of patient care."
DNA sequencing might show that someone is at low risk for a disease, but the actual results are disappointing. If 93% of young women, for instance, found out that they were at low risk for breast cancer, they would probably find out, later in life, that their risk is more like that of the general population.
Kolata quotes Vogelstein as saying, "These negative tests do not mean they are at no risk for these cancers." Kolata quotes researcher David Altshuler as saying, "The general point is absolutely correct. Even if you know everything about genetics, prediction will remain probabilistic and not deterministic." The reason for this may be that behavior, environment and random events tip the balance. Altshuler says, "I am a big believer in randomness."
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