From New York Times bestselling author and world-renowned doctor and geneticist Francis Collins, a book that will forever change how you think about your body, your health, and the future of medicine.
A scientific and medical revolution has crept up on us, based on study after study, from hundreds of laboratories around the world. It is no longer just a theoretical shift: every one of us will be touched by it, and many of us already have been. The meaning of disease, our understanding of the human body, and crucial decisions about what we all need to know and what choices we make about our health are at stake. Welcome to the new world of personalized medicine.
Twenty-one million Americans are affected by 6,000 so-called rare and orphan diseases, many of which are primarily attributable to misspelled genes. And virtually all diseases have a significant hereditary component. There have been many stories in the media about women who are testing to see if they have a mutation that leads to breast cancer, or family members who are strongly at risk for heart disease or Huntington's disease. Yet the revolution is much more fundamental than this: diabetes, heart disease, the common cancers, mental illness, asthma, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, and moreall of these diseases are having their secrets unlocked. Now, with a simple home test, costing a few hundred dollars, you can learn the secrets of your own DNA.
Francis Collins has been at the forefront of this revolution. He was, for fifteen years, the head of the international Human Genome Project, and he now serves as the Director of the National Institutes of Health. He knows, better than anyone, how widespread are the misperceptions about human genetics. Just in the past decade, most of what you think you know about DNA has been overturned. Much of the advice given routinely by health care providers is ill informed, so you need to educate yourself about this rapidly moving area of medicine. You are guaranteed to face some surprises, and some difficult choices about personal knowledge, treatment, and family risk.
Yet this book is overwhelmingly hopeful and inspiring, offering helpful advice in every chapter. Nearly every day, diseases that were barely understood, or completely misunderstood, are being redefined. Families that faced common problems, without hope, are now discovering a new world of understanding, treatment, and prevention. You owe it to yourself to learn about your DNA: how it works, what it reveals, and the benefits and limits of this new knowledge.
A medical revolution is upon us and bestselling author Collins (The Language of God), director of the National Institutes of Health, does a fabulous job of explaining its dimensions. Our knowledge of the genetic basis for disease has increased exponentially in recent years, and we are now able to understand and treat diseases at the molecular level with personalized medicine—care based on an individual's genetic makeup. Collins presents cutting-edge science for lay readers who want to take control of their medical lives. In an enjoyable form, he discusses cancer, obesity, aging, racial differences, and a host of other concerns. Most fascinating is the way Collins discusses the medical advances currently in place and those soon to come that are directly attributable to the federal government's Human Genome Project, headed by Collins, and which mapped the entire human genome. Collins is also not shy about taking on large political issues. He points out problems with our current health-care system, discusses stem-cell research, and in a cogent commentary, recommends—with caveats—direct-to-consumer DNA testing. By using case studies throughout, he does a superb job of humanizing a complex scientific and medical subject. Illus. (Jan.)