Do You Know Your DNA?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Amy Harmon national correspondent for The New York Times, and author of its series, "The DNA Age", and Matt Crenson, content manager for 23andMe, a web-based DNA-discovery service, talk about the impact of genetic science on American life -- and the gift of DNA mapping.


Amy Harmon

Comments [21]

Yvonne from Park Slope, Brooklyn

I know I heard a discussion this morning on diet and fat loss and I would like to add to the conversation the role of muscle tissue in metabolism and fat loss but I did not see this topic in the line up so I am including it here though it is not about DNA but about effective fat loss.

Each pound of muscle that we carry burns 35-40 calories per day just by existing while, by comparison, one pound of fat burns only 2 calories per day. So, without doing anything else, 3 pounds of muscle burns as many calories as running a mile every day. This become an excellent argument for weight training as an effective means of losing our body fat without the controversy and confusion found in conflicting theories of dieting. This may be why a person may be lean and muscular, eat what seems to be for three people and we don't know where it goes. Weight training is, also, a powerful antidote to aging as much of the experience of having lost our "get up and go" is muscle weakness especially the large muscle groups in the hips and thighs - the ones that get us up out of a chair, up the stairs and across the street before the light turns. I found this information in a book, Firm for Life, by the same people who created The Firm exercise videos.

Nov. 23 2007 05:54 PM
google watch from nyc


Consider YouTube

It loses millions -- every month -- perhaps tens of millions. Only a couple of companies considered acquiring them, as the acquiror would need to fund them until they become profitable (or could exploit the "synergies") Guess who bought them?


23and Me is a parallel case. Who can afford to fund a money loser like this until it is profitable and/or exploit "synergies"?
Google. Genentech. Hmmmmmmmm......

Nov. 23 2007 11:06 AM
Norman from New York

Some disease genes are patented (for purposes of testing). The company that owns the genes for breast cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2, charges a lot (a few thousand dollars, as I recall) to use their sequence in a test. How can 23andme sell a test of all the significant genes for only $999? Do they include BRCA1 and BRCA2, which are 2 of the most useful genes?

Nov. 23 2007 10:46 AM
Jeanne Barnett from Cedar Grove NJ

Jeanne Barnett

I wonder if this can be used as a substitute for newborn screening done through the blood and if it could be more easily instituted especially in the 11 states that don't do newborn screenning for cf.

How many genetic mutations are you able to test for.

Some of the companies testing for CF test for 1800 mutations.


Nov. 23 2007 10:43 AM
Norman from New York

People who do old-fashioned genetic testing (for chromosomes) say that in up to 10% of their cases, the subject's father is not the father they thought he was. That could be an unpleasant surprise.

Nov. 23 2007 10:42 AM
Amy from Manhattan

"Epi-" means surface, not outside (as in epicenter). Epigenetics is about how factors in a person's environment influence which genes are "turned on" or never get activated, not only in the person exposed to them but in their descendants. (PBS had a program on this recently. Among other things, growing up in famine conditions can affects the health of a person's grandchildren.)

And knowing what you're predisposed to genetically, whether by genetic testing or family history, can give you the opportunity to take preventive action.

Nov. 23 2007 10:41 AM
Paul from Brooklyn

Brief lesson in imposing social controls by getting the public to beg for them.

step 1: Offer it first for a fee, so only the cool kids have it.
step 2: Bind the technology to everyday convenience; expedite your car loan application if you have it. Lower the price.
step 3: Make it mandatory. If you don't have it, you can't be trusted.

Nov. 23 2007 10:40 AM
Lisa from Bergen County NJ

Nutri-genomics is becoming a hot topic among dietitians.

I see the great potential for people to take pre-emptive action. There are many things people can do to stave off the effects of diseases they are predisposed to, and dietary/ lifestyle steps to manage the risks as well. Examples are taking certain vitamins to prevent macular degeneration, getting regular screenings and checkups to detect diabetes, crohns or celiac disease, and then following the dietary interventions to manage those conditions.

Nov. 23 2007 10:38 AM
Robert from NYC

I don't think anybody should decide that someone else, even a relative or child, should have this procedure done.

Nov. 23 2007 10:35 AM
Frank De Canio from Union City, N. J.

One of the liabilities is of course that knowing one's medical predisposition puts one at risk (assuming there's a mandate for honesty)regarding job applications and insurance. The plus side is one may prevent the potential disease, or delay it - in some cases. Regarding personal predilections, "knowledge is power" to some, "ignorance is bliss" to others.

The Times however had an article regarding a young lady who suspected she had the disease that killed Woodie Guthrie. She came out positive. Her mother who also had the disease was none too pleased, as I rememeber. The daughter felt somewhat empowered.


Nov. 23 2007 10:35 AM
RJ from Brooklyn

How would it help to know one's parents' genome? Esp those who already have diseases, like diabetes, that are known to be partly genetic and partly environmental?

Nov. 23 2007 10:33 AM
google watch from nyc

how is it NOT newsworthy that this company is a part of the google empire?

amy? brian?

Nov. 23 2007 10:33 AM
Norman from New York

Here's a way to save $1,000. Most doctors will tell you that a family history is a better predictor of predispositions to diseases than most of the DNA tests -- especially a fishing expedition for diseases you weren't specifically worried about.

Nov. 23 2007 10:32 AM
sumukha ravishankar from short hills, NJ

i have an adopted daughter with many challenges. do you think she would be an ideal candidate for this, since there is no other way of my knowing her ancestor's medical history. also i wonder if it would be ethical for me to get her DNA history, since she is a minor.
thank you for your response.

Nov. 23 2007 10:30 AM
Paul from Brooklyn

How long until I can be denied a loan or job because of my genetic disposition to heart problems? When will my children face forcible sterilization due to their 'unhealthy' genes? How long until the DNA scan is mandatory?

Nov. 23 2007 10:29 AM
Robert from NYC

So that nine ninety-nine I heard you say, is it $999 or $9.99?

Nov. 23 2007 10:24 AM
google watch from nyc

tell who is behind this!

it is funded by Google billionaires

and run by his WIFE!

should we feel safe having "Googlers" with THIS info?

Nov. 23 2007 10:23 AM
Jon from Bronx, NY

I've heard about a gene that Jewish men have who are Kohanim, descended from the priests in the ancient Jewish temple. Does this company check for that gene? It could make a great Hanukkah gift!

Nov. 23 2007 10:23 AM
Josh from Brooklyn

By knowing about your predispostion, action can be taken to help cope with the situation. Take Macular degeneration. People can be trained to read witht their periferal vision. This type of training can be started b4 the Macular degeneation sets in hard.

Nov. 23 2007 10:23 AM
Shannon from Edgewater, New Jersey

I think this is very useful for those that are adopted. I do not know my birth father and nothing about his family and so, have never known how to talk to doctors about my own health history.
While I try to live a healthy lifestyle, it would be nice to know what to look out for.

Nov. 23 2007 10:20 AM
Ruth Lande from New York

I believe I just heard someone say that your weight is mostly dependent on what you do, (eating/exercising) rather than your genetic code. Not true! Read Gina Kolata's book, "Rethinking Thin", which reviews the literature. Studies of adopted children show that weight is strongly tied to one's genes, not to what your parents feed you or what you do.

Nov. 23 2007 10:20 AM

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