Diabetes Self-Management Blog

Just a decade ago, it was inconceivable that individuals could get their entire genome — the set of approximately 20,000–25,000 genes embedded in human DNA — sequenced to screen for disease. The process was simply too expensive, so researchers focused on developing tests that focused on specific genes and specific conditions or risks. But since the cost of sequencing the human genome is steadily declining, it may soon become a commonplace test at the doctor’s office — promising a future of more informed, more personalized medicine. But as it turns out, this possibility also raises some ethical questions.

According to an article published last week at American Medical News, there are currently no guidelines for handling the information obtained from a personal genetic sequence. For example, a doctor might order a genome sequencing to screen for a patient’s risk of certain types of cancer, especially if cancer runs in the family. The sequencing could also reveal, however, that the patient is at risk for a number of other conditions ranging from high cholesterol to digestive disorders to Type 2 diabetes — a possible tidal wave of information.

The Genetic Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, which we wrote about when it took effect, already prohibits health insurers and employers from collecting genetic information or using it to discriminate against current or potential policyholders or employees. Nevertheless, privacy could still be a concern for patients — especially on the question of whether relatives, who might be at risk for many of the same conditions — should be informed of certain test results. There might also be risks for some conditions that people would rather not know about, or would rather not have their doctor know about. According to a survey described in the American Medical News article, 16 geneticists or lab directors agreed that gene variations found to raise the risk for 21 medical conditions (out of 99 on the survey) would merit disclosure to a doctor if they were found incidentally in someone’s genetic sequencing. The doctor would, of course, be ethically required to provide these results to the patient.

What do you think — would you have liked to know, years ago, whether you had a genetically based increased risk of diabetes? Are there any conditions or diseases for which you’d rather not know your risk level? Are you optimistic about the medical possibilities that genetic sequencing could offer, or worried about any possible negative social effects? Would you agree to have your genome sequenced? Leave a comment below!

POST A COMMENT       
  

Comments
  1. I am no longer concerned and would welcome any knowledge. Were I much younger, maybe I would be less cavalier. My family tree is so loaded with type 2 diabetes that I was not surprised by the diagnosis. My family history also has a variety of cancers.

    If I had known 25 - 35 years ago what I know today, maybe I might have been able to do something about it, but that is water long under the bridge and I am thankful that I have the ability to manage it now.

    Posted by Bob Fenton |

  2. I think that it is easier to escape from all these heritages of diseases, if you decide to live in a better healthier place where all things are good starting from water…..because I think all the available things have a reason a strong reason to cause all the diseases.Cause the govt does not care about people’s health.

    Posted by D.PARAMESWARAN |

Post a Comment

Note: All comments are moderated and there may be a delay in the publication of your comment. Please be on-topic and appropriate. Do not disclose personal information. Be respectful of other posters. Only post information that is correct and true to your knowledge. When referencing information that is not based on personal experience, please provide links to your sources. All commenters are considered to be nonmedical professionals unless explicitly stated otherwise. Promotion of your own or someone else's business or competing site is not allowed: Sharing links to sites that are relevant to the topic at hand is permitted, but advertising is not. Once submitted, comments cannot be modified or deleted by their authors. Comments that don't follow the guidelines above may be deleted without warning. Such actions are at the sole discretion of DiabetesSelfManagement.com. Comments are moderated Monday through Friday by the editors of DiabetesSelfManagement.com. The moderators are employees of R.A. Rapaport Publishing, Inc., and do not report any conflicts of interest. A privacy policy setting forth our policies regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of certain information relating to you and your use of this Web site can be found here. For more information, please read our Terms and Conditions.


Flashpoints
Uncoordinated Care (04/23/14)
Doctor Payments Revealed (04/16/14)
The Costs of Innovation (04/09/14)
Diabetes to Go (04/02/14)

 

 

Disclaimer of Medical Advice: You understand that the blog posts and comments to such blog posts (whether posted by us, our agents or bloggers, or by users) do not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs. The opinions and other information contained in the blog posts and comments do not reflect the opinions or positions of the Site Proprietor.


Carbohydrate Restriction: An Option for Diabetes Management
Some people find that decreasing the amount of carbohydrate they eat can help with blood glucose control. Here’s what to know about this approach.

Insulin Patch Pumps: A New Tool for Type 2
Patch pumps are simpler to operate than traditional insulin pumps and may be a good option for some people with Type 2 diabetes who need insulin.

How Much Do You Know About Vitamins?
Learn what these micronutrients can and can’t do for you.

Complete table of contents
Get a FREE ISSUE
Subscription questions