Three information trends in the past few years – mapping of the human genome, an emphasis on transparency in health care and the near-universal use of the Internet – have combined to scare healthy people half to death.
The Washington Post reports today on something we have been alarmed about for a long time – the false sense of security or of dread when an individual learns his or her genetic profile. Finding out you have a genetic predisposition toward a disease doesn’t mean you will get it – unless you fatalistically engage in behaviors that increase the risk. Conversely, finding out you don’t have markers for a particular disease doesn’t mean you won’t get it.
Without proper medical counseling, this Atlas of “me” can lead you in all the wrong directions. In fact, contemplating your genes is less useful to your health than wearing a seatbelt, a condom or a motorcycle helmet. Right, Mr. Roethlisberger.