Your patients are coming in with their 23andMe data and wanting you to tell them what to eat, what supplements to take, and when they are going to get disease XYZ.
Sound familiar? Doctors and health practitioners today are under enormous pressure to keep up with the rapidly changing science and medical information. And patients today are expecting (rightly so!) that you know as much or more than they do about the health topics they read about on the internet.
Let me cut to the chase and give you some resources for getting started with helping patients understand their 23 and Me results.
- This website has over 175 free articles that specifically address genetics and how to actually apply the information. First priority that I would want my doctor to know about and look for in my genetic data:
- HFE genes that can lead to iron overload (hemochromatosis). Prevention is key here, and being able to counsel patients who carry the genetic variants for hemochromatosis can make a long-term impact on their health.
- LP(a) genetic variants.
- For mood disorders (bipolar, depression, anxiety), an often overlooked cause is circadian rhythm genes.
- It is easy to check for APOE variants for Alzheimer’s risk and prevention.
- Everyone now wants to know about MTHFR. Is it a big deal? Yes, in some ways it is important to long-term health — but not in the way of the overblown, blame everything on MTHFR reactions from the Facebook crowds. It is something that everyone expects their doctor to know about and to listen to their concerns about! Also, knowing that a patient is homozygous for MTHFR C677T may prompt a practitioner to check homocysteine levels.
- Pharmacogenetics: Will that medication you are prescribing work for your patient or do they have a CYP450 gene variant that causes them to be poor metabolizers? I have a full section on ‘detox’ that can help you (partially) answer that question.
- Other resources (not necessarily an endorsement of any of them – just providing the information):
- American Society of Human Genetics – Health Provider Genetic Resources webpage has quite a few resources listed. Not all of them are up-to-date, cutting-edge stuff, but they are the solid standard of care type of resources.
- Back to the pharmacogenetics… The PharmGKB website is a huge resource for learning about specific genetic/pharmaceutical interactions. Stanford has a Warfarin dosage calculator that anecdotally (for my family members) is spot on. It combines genetic data with a little information about the patient to give an estimate of what the Warfarin dosage should be. Clicking on the “Clinical” tab on that website brings up a lot more information on specific genetic variants and related conditions.
- Seeking Health Educational Initiative: this is a company started by a naturopathic doctor who has been active in the methylation cycle and MTHFR realm. It offers training for healthcare providers — as well as selling supplements and a genetic reports product. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on their classes, their YouTube channel has a lot of information on it (and is what your patients are probably watching).
- Another YouTube channel that is popular with people seeking to learn more about genetics is the Beyond MTHFR channel.
- If you are looking for more basic information on genetics — or wanting resources for your patients to learn more about genetics — the University of Utah website Learn Genetics is great. There is a specific section on Precision Medicine that is very good as well.
- 23andMe has a section just for healthcare professionals.
- If your patients want to go beyond just the direct to consumer genetics results that they may already have done, there are whole genome sequencing companies such as Veritas Genetics that work with doctors.
For health practitioners who need help on specific topics, you can Hire Me. I love to dig into the current research on all kinds of health topics related to genetics. I can provide you with a comprehensive look at the current research (summarized but with links to the full study), let you know if specific genetic variants that are covered in the research are available in 23andMe or AncestryDNA raw data, and I can do a web and social media overview so that you know what patients are finding online about the topic.