Daily Rounds: DNA's Limits; Mammogram Overuse Examined; Prevention For Health; And More

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Study says DNA's power to predict is limited (The New York Times) — If every aspect of a person’s DNA is known, would it be possible to predict the diseases in that person’s future? And could that knowledge be used to forestall the otherwise inevitable? The answer, according to a new study of twins, is, for the most part, “no.” 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.

Mammograms tied to overdiagnosis of breast cancer (MSNBC) — "Up to a fourth of breast cancers found through mammograms are harmless and would not cause noticeable disease during the women's lifetimes, a new study from Norway suggests. Such women are said to be overdiagnosed, because their cancers would not have caused symptoms or death. Overdiagnosis is a problem because women may receive tests and treatment they did not actually need."

Health care vs. sick care: why prevention is essential to payment reform (The Boston Globe) — "The foundation of our current health care system is the treatment of illness and disease rather than the promotion of good health. If we created the conditions to make it possible for people to take better care of themselves, countless medical conditions such as type II diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, and obesity could be prevented. And the treatment of these diseases is what leads to skyrocketing health care costs. Local public health interventions – such as reducing air pollution, making healthier food more available, improving sidewalks and bike paths to promote physical activity, and preventing young people from getting hooked on tobacco – can play a significant role in avoiding costly medical care."

Will’s Choice: To live, an alum gives up his arms and legs (BU Today) — '"In real life, Lautzenheiser, doesn’t get out of bed, at least not without a great deal of help. And he hasn’t walked anywhere since last fall, when a group A streptococcus infection shut down his lungs, kidneys, and heart, then unleashed a toxin that brought death to his limbs. He told the surgeons at University Hospital in Salt Lake City to do what they had to do—he just wanted to live. Seven months later, the new Will Lautzenheiser, still handsome and still contemplative, but with stumps where his arms and legs used to be, has yet to appear in dreams. When he does, Lautzenheiser hopes he’ll be ready for him. “I’m not angry,” says Lautzenheiser (CAS’96, COM’07), now 37. “I feel cheated and I feel robbed of a lot. But really, what am I supposed to be angry at? The microbes? I was vastly outnumbered, millions to one, and they took me down. I can’t blame them for that.”'

This program aired on April 3, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.



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