January is right around the corner, which means resolution lists loaded with good-for-you goals.
Usually, these resolutions involve a new gym membership ( or a promise to use an existing one), fad diets and cleanses, or promises to quit smoking or drinking.
Alas, few actually reach their goals. Studies suggest less than 10 percent of people stick to their resolutions.
Could precision medicine play a role in helping people keep their health-related goals?
What is precision medicine?
Precision medicine uses information about a person’s genes, proteins, and
environment to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease. The information is gathered through molecular pathology testing offered by LifeBrite and other clinical laboratories.
Molecular pathology testing uses your genetics to determine which medications will work best for you. With a cheek swab, LifeBrite extracts a DNA sample and then runs it on an instrument to assess your genotype. Those results help lab technicians understand how a person metabolizes different drugs.
Scientists know multiple factors influence a person’s drug response. “For example, genetic variations in the cytochrome P450 (CYP) genes can influence how a drug is metabolized. This means one person may metabolize a drug well, while another person with a different genetic variant may not metabolize the same drug at all,” said Dr. Nicole Umberger, Technical Director of Molecular Pathology for LifeBrite Laboratories.
According to a 2017 study published in Genome Medicine, genetic testing to find these variants could improve medication effectiveness for a majority of people. The study found that four out of five patients carry at least one genetic variant that could affect targets for commonly prescribed drugs.
Optimizing drugs through genetic testing could help people follow through with their doctor’s orders. If a medicine works for you, you are more likely to take it, right?
If a person gets a positive outcome from taking medicine as prescribed, then that person may be more inclined to follow other physician recommendations as well and may be empowered to set health goals.
Personalized medicine and diet
In Elliptical Reviews‘ 2017 survey of 2,000 Americans, 71 percent said their resolutions involved diet or eating healthier. Wouldn’t it be great if our genes could tell us which diet to follow (keto, Atkins, Mediterranean)?
Most of the tests promising personalized diets are “not clinically relevant or worth the cost of testing,” Umberger said. “Those tests also run the risk of suggesting diets that may remove a source of vital vitamins and minerals from one’s diet
“For example, someone gets a result that says they should avoid kiwi and potatoes, so they do. But they also don’t like oranges even though it said that oranges were good for them, and kale is way too bitter for them to enjoy even with a ton of spices, so now the person is potentially at a higher risk for scurvy because they’ve removed rich sources of vitamin C from their diet based on a test result,” Umberger said.
“If someone wants to lose the most weight on a diet they should pick foods that they want to eat and eat less overall,” she added.
Johns Hopkins experts offer these tips for sticking to your health resolutions:
- Practice mindful eating
- Make quality sleep a priority
- Adopt an attitude of gratitude
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day and make small daily changes like taking the stairs
Be sure to talk with your doctor about your goals and the best way to accomplish your goals. And make sure to get the recommended screenings to detect any potential problems on the horizon.
Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early and LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes. To learn more about molecular pathology testing and health screenings offered by LifeBrite Laboratories, visit our homepage.