Genetic Testing – Is It Right For YOU? (Part I)

Sandy is a 52-year-old married mother of three. Her mother had cancer twice, losing the second battle earlier this year. Her younger brother recently beat cancer. Alzheimer’s runs on one side of her family and colon cancer runs on both sides of her family. Is she rushing out to get genetic testing to determine her own odds of having any of these diseases? “It is not for me at this time”, says Sandy. “I would worry and probably stress myself into being sick or an early grave, about when it was going to hit me if I knew something might be waiting in the wings.” Sandy knows early detection is best and chooses to be proactive in her health care.
Genetic testing involves taking a DNA sample of blood or tissue from a patient and having a scientist scan the DNA for mutated sequences. Cost of testing can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the sizes of the genes and the number of mutations tested. Currently, there are more than 1,000 genetic tests available and some provide only an estimated risk for developing the disorder. For example, you can test for Emphysema (Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency), but only get an estimated risk for Alzheimer’s. The problem with genetic testing results is that some people who carry a mutation may never develop the disease. It is believed the mutations may work together with other unknown mutations, or environmental factors to cause the disease. In essence, a “positive” result may never turn into a “positive” result.
The advantage of genetic testing is that it can identify people at high risk for conditions that may be preventable. Aggressive monitoring can turn fatal diseases into treatable ones.
But how will genetic testing affect our children or potential children? Tests can allow families to avoid having children with devastating diseases. Sandy says her 18 year old diabetic daughter has already told her that she does not want to pass her disease on to her children, so she will adopt. She also has a cousin who had twins and wanted to see what the chances were that it would happen again. The test was almost 100% positive that she would have a second set of twins. They stopped with the first set and were very happy. Sandy’s husband also has a strong family history of Alzheimer’s, causing their children to have history from both parents. “Now my kids will have to decide what to do about this knowledge.”

* Names have been changed for privacy

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If you think about it, it makes sense that the history of sledding begins in North America and the aboriginal tribes of Canada. Their surroundings were covered by snow for months at a time, so they needed to find a way to transport heavy loads over long distances. The Cree, Innu, Anishinabe (or Chippewa) used wooden toboggans. The typical tomboggans were made of two or three thin hardwood boards that curved up at the front. The toboggan would either be pulled by humans or dogs.
Around 1800, a variation of the toboggan appeared to carry humans, specifically fur traders and this was called a cariole. This version had enclosed sides, a back and partially covered top.
Snow sleds came about for a specific type of snow transport. Long and narrow runners where added which reduced friction and allowed for heavier loads. One version is called the komitik which was shaped like a ladder with parallel runners attached.
In the late 19th century, the Swiss invented the bobsled. Many new and updated versions have happened along the way and now, most sleds are primarily used for recreational fun.
The annual 1,100 mile Iditarod race held in Alaska reminds us of the challenges of primitive winter transport. This race features a trek from Anchorage to Nome, each team consisting of a musher and 12-16 dogs.

Ways to Cut Your Health Care Costs NOW!

Believe it or not, you CAN control some of your health care costs. Asking questions, taking control of your care and leading a healthier lifestyle can all reduce the amount of money you spend on your health care, both now and in the future.

Take good care of yourself. When at all possible, treat yourself at home. For example, can help you determine if your symptoms may be a sign of a condition that should be seen by a doctor, or if they are symptoms that over the counter remedies can help.

Educate yourself on the health risks of your lifestyle choices such as alcohol or daily fat intake. Determine if your intake levels are too high and the associated risks. You may find that cutting your intake just slightly can save you in the long run.

Save the emergency room for emergencies. With minor emergency clinics and regular doctors with on-call services, think twice before entering the emergency room and save yourself hundreds of dollars.

If you don’t have insurance, or even if you do, try the new “quick clinic” facilities popping up in local pharmacies. Walgreen’s now boasts Take Care Clinics that treat most conditions your regular doctor will treat. In our search, 13 Denver area Walgreen’s now have Take Care clinics to treat anything from strep throat, pink eye, minor sprains and even yearly physicals and vaccinations. The best part is that they actually list non-insurance prices on their website!

Check your hospital or doctor bills carefully. If you find a questionable charge, call them to have them explain it or remove it. Even if your insurance covers the charge, you pay for it in the long run with higher premiums.

Evaluate your prescriptions. Do a little research about the prescriptions you are taking and try to find generic versions, therapeutic substitutes or over the counter options. Talk to your doctor about these options, and if brand-name drugs are recommended, ask if your doctor has free samples.

Know what your medical benefits cover. Don’t get caught with a huge bill because you “weren’t aware”. Keep your insurance coverage book in a handy place so you can reference it quickly and easily.

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