From the Times:
While sequencing the entire DNA of individuals is proving fantastically useful in understanding diseases and finding new treatments, it is not a method that will, for the most part, predict a person’s medical future.
So, the new study concludes, it is not going to be possible to say that, for example, Type 2 diabetes will occur with absolute certainty unless a person keeps a normal weight, or thatcolon cancer is a foregone conclusion without frequent screening and removal of polyps. Conversely, it will not be possible to tell some people that they can ignore all the advice about, for example, preventing a heart attack because they will never get one.
“The punch line is that this sort of personalized medicine will not in any way be the most important determinant of patient care,” said Dr. Bert Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins, who, with his colleagues and his son Joshua, analyzed the power of sequencing all of a person’s DNA to determine an individual’s risk of disease. The study, published online Monday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, involved data from 53,666 identical twins in registries from the United States, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway. The registries included data on 24 diseases, telling how often one twin, both or neither got a disease.
Since identical twins share all of their genes, the investigators could ask to what extent genes predict an increased chance of getting a disease. Using a mathematical model, they reached an answer: not much. Most people will be at average risk for most of the 24 diseases.
If you could use your DNA to determine your cause of death (from natural causes) would you want to know?