Genomics: Sequencing Preventing Disease

Genomics – Sequencing the Genome: The Science of Mapping our Genome

Genomics is changing the way we our proactive about our health, changing the way we treat disease. Genomic testing is truly revolutionizing healthcare.

My Recent Interview on Genomics and Lifestyle choices based on Genomic Testing
Recently I was asked to appear as a special guest on the Make Your Body Work podcast. The show is a Q&A format and we were talking about the following question from a woman named Ainsley:

“‘…I was reading a book recently that suggested that we can change our genes based on our lifestyle choices. This makes me wonder how important it really is to cater to our genes, or to even worry about what our genes originally say. If we can actually change our genes, then shouldn’t that be our focus? At least it would be a nice thought, if we’re able to change them.”

As you know, this conversation topic is right up my alley. I was happy to share some ideas and insights that could be helpful to you as well. Listen to the podcast 

Genomics: Deciphering our DNA to Prevent and Recover from Chronic Illness

What is the Genome?

What is the difference in genetic testing and genomic testing?

Genomics Best In Corporate HealthKnowledge is power. Again, I am going to emphasize – according to the CDC 80 % of illness is caused by lifestyle. If we have the knowledge that we carry a genetic predisposition for an illness – you think that might help us hone our lifestyle choices?

If we know that we have a genetic predisposition for diabetes, which can more often than not be prevented by our daily choices, is that motivation for greater commitment to a life to prevent diabetes?

If we have the knowledge for a more targeted treatment protocol of disease, or a more targeted guide for our nutrition, supplementation, exercise…..think that’s motivation?

We so often want a crystal ball to gaze into our future. We do have a number of crystal balls. I am referring to the crystal balls based of science and research, Science that can read & decipher code of our DNA. I am referring to the science of genetic testing & more recently the study of genomics. The study of genetics has been with us for a long time, ever since an Austrian monk named Gregor Mendel traced heritable traits in his pea plants in the 1800s.

Genetic testing over the years has helped us isolate monogenic diseases – understand individual genes and their role in disease such as sickle cell anemia which we know strikes those of Middle Eastern, Indian, Mediterranean and yes, African heritage. Contrary to popular belief – sickle cell  is related to malaria prone areas, not skin color.

Genetic testing has helped women and men discover if they are carriers of the BRCA gene mutation. Other monogenic (one gene is affected) include cystic fibrosis, polycystic kidney disease, and Tay-Sachs disease.

Personalizing corporate wellness with genomics Best in Corporate HealthNow genomics: Genomics looks at a person’s entire genetic makeup – called the genome. If we look at our chronic illnesses of today – cancer, heart disease, diabetes these diseases are a perfect storm from the interaction of a number of genes……and further complicated by environmental factors and lifestyle choices…… And……the plot thickens…..
Where genomics is insanely helpful –  scientifically targeting  our lifestyle decisions. Genomics focuses on all of the genes and genetic material (not just one at a time) and their interaction with NON genetic factors. By understanding how genes interact with non-genetic factors over which many we have control, such as diet, exercise, and smoking, exposure to oxidative stressors……we can minimize our risk and prevent many complex diseases. Genomics allows us to choose more appropriate food choices, choose targeted nutraceuticals vs swallowing generalized vitamins that give us expensive pee, and genomics can be used in targeting treatment protocols for various diseases….Science has outdone science fiction!

Vitamins ….. Supplements . ….Nutraceuticals

We spend billions every year on vitamins and supplements. There is no question there is better health to be gained with educated supplementation, when guided by real science. Problems:

  • Most people take a general multivitamin – quality varies and is extremely questionable
  •  Very often excipients (flow agents, binders, fillers, coatings, preservatives) are used that can be a health hazard
  • There is a very incorrect view that vitamins can only help us, not hurt us – and that is just not true. There are some conditions we could be totally unaware we have – and those supplements can exacerbate the situation
  • People think if some is good, more is better….just NOT true
  • There are water soluble and fat soluble vitamins. It is possible for fat soluble vitamins to be stores and accumulate to toxic levels
  • There is very little quality control
  • Certain supplements can encourage the growth of tumors

Just as with medication, we need to be educated as to the best choices for us. Genomic testing  – alerting us to our potential for disease – helps us make educated decisions over which supplements we should stay away from, and which ones will support our health.

Genomic Testing in our Corporate Wellness Programs

Corporate Wellness Magazine:

Personalization is the secret sauce for any wellness program

Personalized wellness programs deliver better motivation, knowledge, employee engagement, and results.

A personalized wellness program also conveys a serious commitment on the part of the employer to the employee. In our current  world where “attracting and keeping top talent in our organizations” is  a priority, personalization is key.

Providing Employees the Wealth of Health in Genomics –

Nothing Says Value & Appreciation More Than Health.  Appreciation breeds engagement

Harvard Business Review 2016: The Cost of Disengagement

Genomics Personalizing wellness programs
Targeting Health – Personalizing wellness with Genomics and Biometrics

“While a cut-throat environment and a culture of fear can ensure engagement (and sometimes even excitement) for some time, research suggests that the inevitable stress it creates will likely lead to disengagement over the long term. Engagement in work — which is associated with feeling valued, secure, supported, and respected — is generally negatively associated with a high-stress, cut-throat culture.  In studies by the Queens School of Business and by the Gallup Organization, disengaged workers had:

  • 37% higher absenteeism
  • 49% more accidents,
  • 60% more errors and defects.

In organizations with low employee engagement scores they experienced :

  • 18% lower productivity
  • 16% lower profitability,
  • 37% lower job growth
  •  65% lower share price over time
  • Businesses with highly engaged employees enjoyed 100% more job applications.
Genomics in wellness Best In Corporate HealthCancer Genomics

As a scientist, corporate health provider – my passion has always been preventing cancer. It was established many years ago that cancer is only 8-10% genetics – the rest is lifestyle – exposures to mutagens, carcinogens, oxidative stress that disrupt our inner ecosystem – and create an inner biology that is a good host for cancer. We have all been touched by cancer – either ourselves, or devastated by the loss of a loved one to cancer.

Cancer costs in the workplace – courtesy Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) 2014:

  • In lost work time & treatment: $19,000/100 employees/year
  • Lost work time and presenteeism  $10,000/ 100 workers
  • Medical and pharmacy treatments  $9,100
  •  Absent 3.8 more days per year
  •  Lose the equivalent of 1.8 more days per year to presenteeism.
  • At any given time, about 1/4 of employees with a history of cancer are in treatment.
  • Employees with cancer have an average of approximately four other conditions that complicate care management strategies

By studying the cancer genome, scientists can discover what letter changes are causing a cell to become a cancer. The genome of a cancer cell can also be used to tell one type of cancer from another.  In some cases, studying the genome in a cancer can help identify a subtype of cancer within that type, such as HER2+ breast cancer. Understanding the cancer genome may also help a doctor select the best treatment for each patient.

The supplement like a flu shot against oxidative stress…..

Why are we not controlling chronic illness? We must control the wildfire of inflammation and lower oxidative stress. We know oxidative stress is at the root of chronic illness such as cancer, heart disease, depression, diabetes, arthritis,….We take a flu shot to prevent the flu – one simple supplement to lower your oxidative stress by as much as 40%.    7 patents, 24 peer reviewed studies on pubmed, accolades from American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic, National Institute on Aging….Washington State: “may well become the most extraordinary therapeutic and most extraordinary preventative breakthrough in the history of medicine.”

Shira Litwack, Corporate Program Designer
Shira Litwack – The Corporate Happy Place medical fitness professional, Cancer Exercise Specialist , Medical Exercise Specialist, Holistic Nutritionist

Chief Health Enthusiast – Best In Corporate Health

  • Shira is regularly consulted by Naturopaths, oncologists, health coaches on cancer exercise and exercise adherence.
  • Has assembled over 20 health and fitness professionals with varying specialties to bring to corporate wellness programs
  • Platforms include: Speaking, One-one/group health coaching, Retreats, Course development for in house delivery, Metrics to measure success available, Partners always included
  • Now offering live interactive webinars, just as if each participant has a personal health coach – making corporate wellness programs affordable to all.
  • Shira has been interviewed & published in hundreds of resources over the last 12 years:

Articles featured in: ezines, ArticlesInk, European Registry of Exercise Professionals, The National Post, Investment Executive Magazine, Directory of Greater Toronto, Canadian Leukemia & Lymphoma Association, Prostate Cancer Canada, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Anytime Fitness, Today’s Black Woman, Today’s Seniors, Medical Fitness Network, FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered), Willow (Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support),Myeloma Canada, Cancer Exercise Training Institute, Urban Poling for Breast Cancer, ROW – Recovery on Water for Breast Cancer, Sirius XM Doctor Radio