ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

DNA Testing for Disease Prevention

Updated on January 30, 2017
Pamela99 profile image

I have been writing about medical issues and all the new medical advances since spending 22 years in the nursing profession.

Genome Testing

With new technology it is now possible to have DNA testing (genome screening) for disease prevention. Essentially this means you have your DNA (or genetic code) analyzed to see what your chances are for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and how you might react to common medicines.

The healthy 40 year old Stephen Quake, a Stanford scientist, genetic profile was written up in the Lancet after his genes were probed and he was told he was at risk for a heart attack, obesity, diabetes and some cancers, however, he is at a low risk for developing Alzheimer disease. One reason Quake was chosen for the testing is he had a first cousin that died mysteriously at age 19. Scientist state a new era of personalized medicine will evolve once they get better at interpreting the data. They think interpreting the data is more difficult than obtaining it.

Human Genome (DNA)

source imglib lil
source imglib lil

Scientific Studies and Legislation

For several months 30 scientists studied more than 2 million gene variants in Quake’s DNA. They found genes linked with sudden cardiac death and others suggesting he might be resistant to the anti-clotting drug clopidogrel. They suggested Quake start taking cholesterol lowering medicine but he declined. Quake’s testing cost $50,000, but scientist see a day where the testing will cost $1000 in about 3 years. The research has been funded by the U.S. National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Heart, lung and Blood Institute and others.

Some think there are ethical dilemmas to be considered. Perhaps more legislation will be necessary to protect an individual’s personal information. After all, an employer might not give you a job if they were privy to this type of information, or a life insurance company might refuse you insurance application. Also, many people may not want to know the intimate details of their genome. At this time more than 10 people have had their full genomes sequenced.

Stephen Quake

Photo courtesy BBC News  Stephen on left.
Photo courtesy BBC News Stephen on left.

Stephen Quake's Decisions

Many scientists think it will help people live a healthier life. For instance, if you are more likely to develop heart disease you might eat healthier; take cholesterol medicine earlier and exercise. Stephen Quake stated, “You know, the chance of dying is 100 percent, it's just a question of how and when, right? I think this sort of points to an interesting thing about personal genomes.

You have to have a bit of a strong stomach for it." In his case now that he knows he has a link to sudden cardiac death, he remains athletic and plans to get echocardiograms, ultrasonograms and stress tests periodically so doctors can look for any ominous changes in his heart. He states he will start taking cholesterol lowering drugs if his cholesterol rises into an unhealthy range, as right now it is normal.

Testing to Assess Cancer Risk

There are some specific tests available now at a reasonable price for such things as the abnormality of the breast cancer gene. I have a friend who studies genealogy as I do. She is of Swedish descent and she noticed that most of her ancestors died of some type of cancer. Then she got breast cancer and had a bilateral mastectomy.

The human genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 belong to a class of genes known as tumor suppressors. Mutation of these genes has been linked to breast and ovarian cancers. This is true for men getting breast cancer as well. A woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer is greatly increased if she inherits a harmful mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2. You will see multiple members in a family with cancer and these cancers quite often happen before menopause. The difference is about 120 out of a 1000 would normally develop breast cancer but with the mutation 600 out of 1000 are at risk.

There are state laws in place to protect you privacy with this testing. There is also genetic testing for colon cancer. These are genetically inherited diseases.

Testing for Cancer Risk Video

Books Genetics- Genomes

Advanced Genetic Analysis: Genes, Genomes, and Networks in Eukaryotes
Advanced Genetic Analysis: Genes, Genomes, and Networks in Eukaryotes

Advanced Genetic Analysis probes fascinating questions such as these by asking "How can the principles of genetics be used as analytical tools to solve biological problems?"



If you decide to get tested as you know many in your family have had breast or ovarian cancer and if your test is positive then you have some choices to make. One option is more frequent, careful screening. Some women chose prophylactic surgery which is surgically removing as much of the at risk tissue as possible and some have their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed but that is not even a 100% guarantee that you will remain free of the disease but it certainly improves your odds. There are also medications such as Tamoxifen that has been shown in numerous studies to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by about 50% for those at increased risk. To get more information about cancer genetics check out

My friend only had to have a mastectomy on one breast but because she had the testing she opted to have both removed at the same time. I think I would have made the same decision in that case. Through her experience she has been contacting all her relatives, many in the U.S. and some in Sweden. They have been getting the testing and several are positive. One man just decided to have a colonoscopy done early and they found very early stage cancer which saved his life. Some women have found early stage breast cancer, so her awareness and encouragement to her family to get tested has literally saved the lives of her extended family.

In Summary

Genetic testing has a long way to go, yet look at the great strides that have already happened. Lives are being saved from cancer and maybe that will happen with heart attacks, strokes and other diseases as the scientists learn more about interpreting data. DNA testing for disease prevention is definitely a part of our future.

© 2010 Pamela Oglesby


Submit a Comment

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    jee, Its an interesting topic and I would be glad to take a look.

  • jez_jay33 profile image

    jez_jay33 7 years ago from Los Banos Laguna

    hey, i made a hub also about DNA and its medical uses, you guys might want to check it out

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Freelance, Thanks for your comment.

  • freelancewriterva profile image

    freelancewriterva 7 years ago

    The new technology of DNA testing will help us prevent diseases and this will be good for humanity. But, someone will go over the line, and we will have to deal with it. Good hubpage.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Mystiquem You are so kind to make such complimentary comments and I appreciate it very much.

  • Mystique1957 profile image

    Mystique1957 7 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela

    My dearest Pam...

    As always you write thought provoking and interesting hubs! I do enjoy them and learn from them very much! Indeed your research is always quite thorough, which makes your hubs even more appealing! Great theme! Bookmarked, Rated up and Stumbled!

    Warmest regards and infinite heavenly blessings,


  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Billy, I have the same concerns about big brother even though there are benefits is you choose to have the testing. Thanks for your comment.

  • billyaustindillon profile image

    billyaustindillon 7 years ago

    Pamela enjoyed the hub - I can see the benefits but also worry what big brother or big money may try to do with this kind of knowledge in the wrong hands.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Thank you so much for the kind comments Sage. Happy Mother's day to you also.

  • Sage Williams profile image

    Sage Williams 7 years ago

    A wealth of information. Your research is always amazing. DNA is a fascinating subject. You did an amazing job on this hub. Thanks so much for keeping me up on the latest technological data in regards to DNA. Once again, there is always something new to learn. I always look forward to reading your hubs. Happy Mother's Day!

    Great Job!


  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    SusanLang, Thank you for your comments. I am only reporting the latest technology, not advocating for people to get a test that don't want. I don't particularly think I would want the genome study done, but if I had cancer in my family I would get the BRAC1 or 2 test because early detection can save your life perhaps with less medical int4ervetion. Happy Mother's day to you also.

  • susanlang profile image

    susanlang 7 years ago

    One more thing... Happy Mother's Day to you!

  • susanlang profile image

    susanlang 7 years ago

    Aww.. the ever evolving DNA know something Pamela, I'm not sure I would want to know if I had something so bad with no cure at hand. So I guess you could say I'm sitting on the fence with this one. You provided some information I had not realized yet.. so give me a few days...My opinions may change. Helpful hub, rated up!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Miata, Thank you and Happy Mother's day to you also.

  • prettydarkhorse profile image

    prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

    I dropped by to say Happy Mothers Day Pam, Maita

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Support Med, Yes, I was aware that many physicians have the internet with hospital records of their patients connected in their office which I think it a good thing. The genome studies are a different situation in my opinion. If you chose to participate then it should be totally private and secure. Thanks for your comments.

  • Support Med. profile image

    Support Med. 7 years ago from Michigan

    Pamela99: This is really very interesting and informative. I look forward to further findings in this area.

    BTW: As a nurse, I am certain that you know many physicians were already utilizing the internet even before our current President came into office, as they have found it to be a source to quickly obtain test results, etc., as well as treat the patient in a timely manner. I do understand the concern, however. It seems the higher the technology, the greater risks there are in certain areas. This could also be said for the genome studies. This type of knowledge of new discoveries could be 'deadly' in the wrong hands and/or in one with the wrong mindset. Peace to us all.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Jack and Prasetio, Thank you both for your nice comments.

  • prasetio30 profile image

    prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

    I am glad to read this information. New technology for the medicine world. You comes with useful information. Good work, Pamela. As usual I rate this hub. Thumbs Up for you.

  • TnFlash profile image

    TnFlash 7 years ago from Tampa, Florida

    Great Hub! Up-rated! You find the coolest subjects to write about. I wish I had half your talent. Keep up the good work!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Ictodd abd Nance, Thank you for your comments. It is an amaziging topic and I think God had it all planned out.

  • nancy_30 profile image

    nancy_30 7 years ago from Georgia

    This was a very interesting topic to write about. It amazes me at the new things that are being done these days. Thank you for sharing all this interesting information.

  • lctodd1947 profile image

    lctodd1947 7 years ago from USA

    Pamela99 this is excellent work and something I did not realize was being done. Great information and yes; God had it all planned out and he uses humans to reveal it.

    Thanks so much for the hub.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Habee, Miata & Carrie, Thanks for your comments.

  • Carrie DeSha profile image

    Carrie DeSha 7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

    Very interesting hub. Thanks

  • prettydarkhorse profile image

    prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

    this is awesome explanation and a topic for health hub, I learned a lot from it specially cancer testing DNA risk, Maita

  • habee profile image

    Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

    I've read a little about this, but I learned more here. Great job!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Janny, I am glad you enjoyed the hub and thanks for your comment.

  • JannyC profile image

    JannyC 7 years ago

    Did not know about this fully. Written excellently I enjoyed learning about this.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Patriot, It seems you have a bit of a one track mind. How could I know the answer to that question. I think we can determine the Kenya background from his looks, but I'm not sure is we can locate the arrogance with a blood test. I appreciate your visit as always.

  • profile image

    partisan patriot 7 years ago


    Does Barrack have BRaCk1 or BRaCk2 genes and do they identify people from Kenya?

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    rprcarz, BPOP, Cari and Roberta, Thanks for your comments. I can see that too much information can cause stress and worry. I don't think I would want to know I was going to die of cancer some day but maybe if I knew sudden death was a possibility I would make great effort to live life to its fullness and keep my affairs in order. Roberta, I'm not sure some of Obamas weak points would show in his DNA but then it might be interesting to see what does show. Privacy is certainly a concern for many people and I think that is something we can't count on.

  • profile image

    Rbeerta 7 years ago

    What a hub. It is amazing what scientists can accomplish and have accomplished. Sometimes too much information is not a good thing. I would hate for this type of information to get in the wrong hands. Everything is moving so fast these days. In the long run it is probably a good thing, but scary at the same time. Maybe they should check Obama, who knows what they would find?????????????

  • Cari Jean profile image

    Cari Jean 7 years ago from Bismarck, ND

    very interesting - I can see how it can be both a good and a bad thing to know all of this information. It can certainly help people take preventative measures but I think it has the potential to add a lot of stress and worry as well. Also I can see how the information could be used against a potential employee or somone getting health insurance. It will be interesting to see what happens with this as time goes on.

  • breakfastpop profile image

    breakfastpop 7 years ago

    Interesting hub, but honestly sometimes too much information is a terrible thing!

  • rprcarz50 profile image

    rprcarz50 7 years ago

    Great Hub !

    You have done some wonderful research for this !

    Amazing and Kudos to you.


    As Always Also a2z50

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Hello, Thank you for your comment.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    DNA was a great discovery and is a wonderful help in many ways. Thank you for great hub.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Vrajavala, Yes, I agree that the disease is not inevitable. Take Hawkins for instance, if he remain at a normal weight, eats healthy to keep that low cholesterol level and exercise his chances are greatly reduced for heart disease and diabetes. As for the fetus issue, that is my worry also because the technology could be used to even determine the sex of the baby, and I am pro life, so I see that as a potential problem. Thanks for all of your comments.

    Darlene, That is good that she is already thinking about her daughter to see if she even has the mutated gene. Thanks for all your comments.

    Carolina, I appreciate your comments,

  • carolina muscle profile image

    carolina muscle 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    The technology is a little over my head, but you did a wonderful job making it understandable!!

  • Darlene Sabella profile image

    Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

    Excellent Pamela, after my daughter found out about her breast cancer she is doing this kind of research for her nine year old. The never what's her daughter to suffer and go through the hard times she is going through. Awesome hub and advise and thank you for sharing this with us.

  • vrajavala profile image

    vrajavala 7 years ago from Port St. Lucie

    Hi Pam. Great hub. The problem is that the gene defines a "susceptibility", not an inevitability to disease,inmost cases In most cases,there will have to be an "irritant" to promote the disease. Then, of course, some will test the DNA of a fetus to avoid "inferior" genotypes. In which case, geniuses like Stephen Hawking would have been long ago eliminated to humanity's bereft.

    I believe that the great Hippocrates said "Let food be medicine, and medicine be your food." And, you know, it can be as simple as that, but the AMA doesn't want you to find out about that.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Drbj, Maybe you are right. Thanks for your comments.

    Anginwu, I think the potential for great strides in health care is great. Thanks for the comment.

    Jim, I think we will see great advances in medicine with all the things you mentioned. I have concern for government interference and privacy also. The Microsoft analogy is a good one.

  • FitnezzJim profile image

    FitnezzJim 7 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

    The progress in understanding the Genome and the potential to develop better diagnostics and better treatments leads me to believe that we'll soon be seeing improved health and longer life expectancies. The implications are tremendous and probably will change (eventually) our way-of-life. One of the reasons I disliked the Health Care Bill was the potential for government interference (control?) with advances related to what we'd learned. In fact, such advancement is a Constitutional responsibility of the Congress (Article I, Section 8 - 'promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts'), as opposed to the 'everybody pays' approach to Health Care.

    Imagine where we'd be today if Microsoft had been government controlled.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Interesting information. To test or not to test is the question. Genetic testing can raise moral issues like you mention but it can also be very helpful in saving lives. Rated it up!

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

    Pamela - this is a well-written article.

    I can foresee a potential DNA scenario now. One day, not too far in the future, young people may be required to have their respective DNA tested before attempting to conceive a child. Orwell's "1984" is not far away.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Trddletonmr, I think that DNA testing is cool if it helps us have better quality health and know what will help our situation. Thanks for your comment.

    Amber, Thank you for your comment. It is interesting. I own that book you wrote about also because I have health problems and wanted to know if eating or not eating certain things would make a difference. Science is moving along at a rapid clip these days.

    HealthyHannah, This is interested that you son is a geneticist. What a wonderful time to get into that field. I am sorry to hear about your daughter's baby. It could be that things will turn out just fine. There are certainly new technologies to treat heart problems and I have even seen a surgeon operate on a babies heart while the baby was still in the womb. Miracles happen and worry doesn't help but I wish you the best. Thank you for your comment.

    Sherri, I bet they could tell the color of the hair and eyes from DNA. I hope that the elections will change the tone of congress and maybe privacy will be protected. Thanks for your comments.

  • SheriSapp profile image

    SheriSapp 7 years ago from West Virginia

    Magnificent and very informative article here. I agree that it CAN be a good thing, but again there is the privacy issue. With the government controlling all healthcare, it will become MUCH more difficult to keep your private medical issues private.

    I watch lots of crime tv, and I was thinking that there may eventually come a time where a DNA sample can enable the cops to KNOW the hair color, eye color, and skin color of offenders when a sample of DNA is available. Just a crazy thought I had!!

  • HealthyHanna profile image

    HealthyHanna 7 years ago from Utah

    Interesting. I have a son in law that is a geneticist. This is the new field in that career. It is very interesting. I have another daughter that just had an untra-sound done on her unborn baby. It shows some abnormality in the development of the heart. do you react? What do you do? The only action that can be taken now is to worry. Is that good? We decided to realize there might be a risk, and know that we can adjust. Many live with abnormalities of the heart. Worry isn't going to help anything. Would they consider abortion? No. What good it this knowledge now?

  • Amber Allen profile image

    Amber Allen 7 years ago

    Hi Pamela

    I found this hub really interesting as it follows on from the hub I've just written on The Blood Type Diet. I think our bodies will hold the key to solving a lot of our health issues. Rated up!


  • Teddletonmr profile image

    Mike Teddleton 7 years ago from Midwest USA

    DNA testing, how cool is that? I would rather live in fear of big brother and the insurance companys finding out about my DNA, than die from fear and not knowing ...

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Katiem, I know I was fascinated when I started reading about the Genome and I have learned a lot from my friend as well. I am glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks for your comments.

  • katiem2 profile image

    katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

    Pamela, Fascinating I am such a Science Geek! Love this hub. DNA is a remarkable science and it has only just begun to open doors of knowledge. I look forward to more on this subject. Thanks and Peace :)

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Diamond, I am concerned about those records also. The way people can hack into computer systems anything is possible and once something is on the internet it is there forever. It could affect getting a job also. I agree that DNA does make you believe only a Divine Creator could have made this miracle. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Katrina, You're welcome and than you for your comment.

    Rev Lady, I also believe we are blessed and I thank you for your comments.

    Ecoggins, I wonder if those neuro-enhancements would help me not be forgetful? Just kidding but think of the people that might be helped when they perfect the technology. Thanks for your comment.

    Tom, I don't think I will be getting tested either. Thanks for your comment.

  • DiamondRN profile image

    Bob Diamond RPh 7 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

    I am most concerned about the universal Internet health records that the Obama administration is promoting; that the insurance companies will find a way to use it against you, if they discover something they don't like or that they think they can charge more for because it supposedly puts you into a higher-risk category!

    I didn't used to think that way. I guess I'm just getting tired of getting beaten up by bureaucracies.

    DNA is more than a wonderful thing. It is sufficient proof to me that there is a Divine Creator.

  • Tom Whitworth profile image

    Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV


    I'm a big baby anyway I don't think I'd participate in DNA testing there are just some things I don't want to know!!!!!!!!

  • ecoggins profile image

    ecoggins 7 years ago from Corona, California

    Thanks for the excellent overview of this new technology. Technology is evolving rapidly especially in terms of medicine. They say the time of neuro-enhancements to increase the capacity of the human brain is just around the corner.

  • RevLady profile image

    RevLady 7 years ago from Lantana, Florida

    We rejoice is all the blessings God has made available to us. Thanks for this timely hub PAM.

    Forever His,

  • profile image

    Katrina 7 years ago

    Many people will take advantage of this new technology. Thanks for sharing.