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[Sep. 12th, 2008|11:48 pm]
[mood |awakeawake]

Topic for the night: this.

The price cut is significant in and of itself, but I'll start by lecturing a bit about the service as a whole.

I've just finished reading an interesting book about renaissance astrology, which was largely concerned with the study of genitures, that is, charts of the celestial bodies drawn up for the precise time and place of an individual's birth. In these it was believed that good and ill fortune, as well as specific types of threats to an individual's health and well being, could be defined well in advance of their occurrence. This has something of the same feel: knowing that your genes harbor some tendency towards a particular disease or condition does not mean that it necessarily will occur, or even that the correlation is correct at all.

That said, as for the literate public of the renaissance, the idea of being able to foretell some part of the potential future has a powerful appeal. While in some cases there may be little we can do to overcome a given handicap, nnowing that you have a predisposition for heart disease, for example, should probably lead to some careful decisions about diet and exercise.

I have been tempted by these services for a while, for the reasons above. Unfortunately, the only heritable medical condition I am really worried about isn't on the list of things they test for. Which makes it not a question of health concerns so much as curiousity: finding out about parts of my genetic makeup that I had no idea about. Of course, the service also identifies genetic markers by ethnic groups, so they already have that marketing niche well covered.

But what price are we willing to pay for curiousity? I decided that $1000 was too much for me. For that price, I would expect an exacting certainly that the service can't realistically promise. But 400 is a much more manageable price, especially for the ream of information they provide you with. It will still be out of the reach of some, but it's also possible that the number will continue to fall. In the meantime, however, we have to decide if this price is low enough for us to get our little piece of the future.

I'm still on the fence, tempted but not sure the expense will be worth it. Anybody else have an opinion?

From: thegelf
2008-09-13 03:59 pm (UTC)
If you're adopted and know nothing of your family medical history, a service like this is totally worth $400. If you know your family medical history, a service like 23andMe isn't worth as much, since you know how people with genes rather similar to yours have expressed those genes. If most males on your father's side of the family have, say, heart problems, there's a darned good chance you will too, and that's most likely what 23andMe's service will tell you. And maybe the genetic sequence that causes your family's heart problems isn't recognized by the test, so it says you'll be fine, even though you won't be.
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[User Picture]From: batmiles
2008-09-13 04:32 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think, from what I've read, that actual genealogical medical data trumps genetic data pretty much every time so far.
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[User Picture]From: darkskywatcher
2008-09-19 11:40 am (UTC)
Apologies for the long delay, it's taken me a while to get my thoughts together.

The biggest problem I have with trusting my family's medical history is the extremely small sample size. To you Gelf's male heart disease example, there are a grand total (and this is including 2nd cousins) of 5 males in the preceding two generations. That's both sides of my family. Going up another generation only adds a few more. At that point, unless all or none of them have it, I'd find it very difficult to make an educated guess how things will pan out for me based solely on a genealogical record.

Also, I discovered rather circuitously, that they do in fact do at least some testing for the disease I am most concerned about.
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