Popular consumer genomics company 23andMe is getting ready to collaborate with the State of Nevada to offer free access to genetic test kits to 5,000 Northern Nevadans who qualify for an upcoming public health study. This joint research study is going to focus on the genetic components of various health risks facing citizens in Nevada. Participants will get the $199 spit test for free and get a report on their ancestry, health traits and information on whether or not they carry genetic risk for certain disorders including cystic fibrosis. The Governor’s office is providing financial support to the program as part of their “Precision Medicine” efforts.

Improving Health Across the U.S.

This program isn’t new. An Icelandic gene-hunting company is able to identify everyone from that country who has a deadly cancer risk. The Reykjavik firm, DeCode Genetics, has full DNA on 10,000 people and because Icelanders are closely related, that information can be extrapolate to accurately guess the DNA makeup of the more than 300,000 residents. That is terrifically valuable information to everyone at risk for cancers with inheritable genetic susceptibility, such as stomach, breast, prostate, lung and colorectal cancers.

Nevada’s step forward on this front is good news for everyone. Genetic testing can help researchers learn more about the genetic predisposition for certain diseases and how people and families can mitigate risk and be more proactive about their health and possible genetic health concerns. Researchers are hoping that the results of this study will foster a better understanding of more than just genetic factors, but also environmental factors, that can impact predictive risk factors, swifter diagnoses, proactive healthcare and better health of citizens in Nevada, with broader implications in genetic research and public health nationwide.

For more than a decade the research of Paul Lichtenstein, “Environmental and Heritable Factors in the Causation of Cancer, based an analyses of cohorts of twins from Sweden, Denmark and Finland, has established beyond doubt that cancer is overwhelmingly caused by the environment. Dr. Lichtenstein’s research use of twins amounts to a matched pair study, which is the most reliable and strongest method of statistical analysis based on 9, 512 pairs of twins a significantly significant increased risk among twins of affected people for stomach, colorectal, lung, breast and prostate cancers. Read the full study in the New England Journal of Medicine

Genetics, Environment, Lifestyle and Health

That makes it clear that the Nevada study isn’t just about mapping the genomes of 5,000 citizens in Northern Nevada, it’s about making research strides in the subject of genetics, environment and lifestyle and how those factors impact health on a multi-generational and socio-economic scale across the United States, The State of Nevada currently ranks 37th in public health, and researchers will be able to use this data to help determine the most pressing factors associated with health in Nevada and potentially, other areas with similar healthcare issues.

Know Your Genome

Do you know your genome? With consumer genetic testing becoming available to more people across the country, we now have a nearly unprecedented ability to screen for certain diseases and conditions. Alexander Law Group, LLP is always ready to answer questions and share the results of our research and experience with the public. Our goal is to make a difference for our clients and our community.