Health

Ron Bailey Unzipped

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanDec 14, 2010 12:07 PM

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Over at Reason Ron Baily has an excellent piece up, I’ll Show You My Genome. Will You Show Me Yours? He reviews his results from two genotyping chips, and has placed his results online. I doubt readers of this weblog will learn anything that new, though the article might prove illuminating to friends & family. But, some cautions: - Even papers which make it through "peer review" may not be reporting robust results. So Baily reports the breastfeeding & IQ gene-interaction findings...but the statistics in this might be flawed. Reason should also just tack the Genomes Unzipped odds ratio post to that article. Bailey knows how to interpret the results (with a grain of salt), but I don't think how important this is comes through in the piece. - Second, he repeats the argument that genomic screening might make insurance unfeasible:

In 2008 Karen Pollitz, director of Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute, wrote in the journal Managed Care, “Much of life’s uncertainty about health will become much more known to us, and since insurance is all about protecting people from the unknown, that will be a profound change.” So profound that Pollitz thinks it could ultimately make the insurance industry obsolete....

Unlikely. There's still a fair amount of randomness in health outcomes. This is probably a function of the stochasticity of development and environment. I think people need to stop repeating this argument (which I found plausible until I thought about it more deeply). Oh, and a final minor note, Bailey notes that contrary to family rumor he doesn't have Native American ancestry. I don't know what Pathway does, but 23andMe really can't go back more than five generations apparently. (Acknowledgement, Daniel MacArthur, Ph.D.)

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