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Week by week now, genetic science is unlocking amazing secrets of life. It is also unlocking secrets of disease and death.
Medical science can now look into you genetic code with a fair chance of forecasting your health future - the likelihood of certain cancers, or Alzheimer's, the certainty of early death from Huntington's disease.
What was a mystery can now be laid out like a map. But once we know, we have to live with that knowledge. The bliss, and worry, or ignorance is gone.
This hour On Point: Genetic testing telling us more and more about our health futures and living with what we learn from our DNA.
Quotes from the Show:
"I found it difficult to live with the uncertainty [of not knowing whether I'd get Huntington's]. Part of being [genetically] tested is that you hope to find out that [a disease] is not in your future. I understood my risk [of DNA testing]." Katharine Moser
"Scientists are discovering genes that cause disease much faster than they're discovering the cures for the diseases. So, pretty soon we're all gonna have this choice: do we want to know something about ourselves, something about our future, what may be our future, whatever our genes predispose us to, even it's something that we can't necessarily do anything about. And I think that is something people are beginning now to grapple with." Amy Harmon
"If you look at it on the day-to-day and work in the genetic counseling world, what you're looking at is trying to make sure that those people who are impacted by this information have the educational background and the understanding of the genetics to make the decisions that are gonna be the most appropriate for them." Caroline Lieber
"[Without protection] then there are both the real and more importantly the perceived concerns, fears that people have about being discriminated against in terms of being able to obtain health insurance, the cost of their health insurance, in terms of employment discrimination- having an employer refuse to hire you because of your genetic risk for future disease." Dr. Alan Guttmacher
Amy Harmon, reporter for the New York Times.;
Dr. Alan Guttmacher, Deputy Director for the National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health.;
Caroline Lieber, Director of the Human Genetics Program at Sarah Lawrence College.;
Katharine Moser, patient and advocate for Huntington's disease awareness and research.
This program aired on April 4, 2007.
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