Wouldn’t it be great if you could predict the future? It would certainly remove a lot of stress and anxiety about a great many things, like money, marriage and career. But what about your health? What if you had the power to look into the future to see what illnesses you might have in the future? Alternatively, what if you had information that helped you to live better? Would you do it?
We are entering an exciting age in medicine and one of the most exciting fields is genomics, or the analysis and sequencing of DNA – the hereditary material in all humans and most organisms – that defines who we are (our genetic make-up). With all of its advances, medicine is still very much an imperfect science in large part because therapies are developed for the masses, not the individual. But the fact is, a drug or therapy that works for one person may not work for another because their genetic make-up is different.
But just how much of our health and wellness depends on what we do and eat (lifestyle) versus how we are made (our genetic makeup)? In other words, is our future health and wellness governed by nature or nurture? Are we really in control of our health or do our genes determine our fate?
According to one of the largest studies ever to tackle this issue, the answer is a (conditional) ‘yes’. In research conducted by the Massachusetts General Hospital and subsequently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers analyzed both lifestyle and genetic data from over 55,000 patients and it revealed, among other things, that a person’s genetic makeup can double the risk of heart disease, BUT our pathway to heart disease is not controlled by our genes.
In a sense, genetics is like a game of cards. We get dealt a good or bad hand by our parents, and those are the ones we are required to play. How we play those cards is up to us. According to Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, the director of the Center for Human Genetic Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, the results aren’t necessarily cause for concern. “You do have control over the problem, even if you have been dealt a bad genetic hand”, says Dr. Kathiresan. “It’s not nature or nurture, it’s both”.
So yes, you could have a higher genetic disposition for heart disease, for example, but KNOWING that and adopting a healthy lifestyle cuts the odds of developing heart (and other) diseases in half. Thus, the influence of having ‘at risk’ genes is offset. But the key element here is knowing and that’s where genetic testing comes into play.
Understanding your particular genetic predisposition to disease is not as simple as finding out whether you have either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ DNA. Different genes (and there are a lot of them) have been linked to a whole number of different health issues. Using a genetic test, doctors are able to better pinpoint specific conditions and diseases that pose higher health risks. These results form the blueprints for a personalized health plan that can help guide your to better health and more importantly a better quality of life.
Dr. Wanviput Sanphasitvong, a wellness physician with the Vitallife Wellness Center at Bumrungrad International Hospital says there is growing interest in genetic testing, especially among men and women in their 30s. “There is a real sea change happening now in medicine and genetics is providing doctors and patients with information that really does impact lifestyle choices that contribute to chronic disease. Without genetic data you are guessing. With genetic data you are predicting”, she says.
The Vitallife Clinic specializes in genetic testing for disease predictive genes, drug sensitivity, and metabolism. Genetic testing is just one part of a total wellness menu offered by Vitallife, a pioneer in the vitality and lifestyle medicine.
For more information please contact:
Vitallife Wellness Center 2
68 Bumrungrad International Tower Building 10th Floor,
Soi Sukhumvit 1, Klongtoey Nua, Wattana,
Tel : +66 2066 8899
Monday to Friday : 08.00 – 19.00 hrs.
Saturday to Sunday: 08.00 – 16.00 hrs.
Nearest BTS: Phloen Chit