We are paying the price for living longer, collecting degenerative diseases along the way. Cancer is only one. Others are heart and brain diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinsons.
People's genes can say a great deal about their health. There are genes that reveal an increased likelihood of getting cancer, heart disease or Alzheimer's.
People think it's a terrible tragedy when somebody has Alzheimer's. But in my mother's case, it's different. My mother has been unhappy all her life. For the first time in her life, she's happy.
I started out as a neurologist. I then trained in neuropathology and was focused on neurodegeneration. So, for years, I studied Alzheimer's, aging, Parkinson's, that kind of thing.
If I know I'm at genetically high risk of Alzheimer's, maybe I don't plan to retire at 80, and maybe I'm more proactive about where I'm going to live and who's going to take care of me.
Some genetic variants can be informative about one's risk for Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.
Traditionally, when you talk to people who have Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, they'll talk about how they're in five or six studies, and they've been sequenced by each study. That's just fat in the system. Just have a single data set that then you can share. You can make the entire system more efficient.
As a writer, I have to admit, there is something darkly compelling about Alzheimer's because it attacks the two things most central to a writer's craft - language and memory, which together make up an individual's identity. Alzheimer's makes a new character out of a familiar person.
One of the great changes wrought by the increased public awareness of Alzheimer's - and thank you, Nancy Reagan, you wonderful tough old dame, you - is that people in the early stages of the disease are now speaking out while they still have the capacity to do so.
In 1989, my father died after a prolonged struggle with Alzheimer's disease. All four of his siblings followed him into the shadow lands of that fascinating, maddening affliction.