Published: Mar. 27, 2009
Updated: Mar. 27, 2009
Sugg: Many patients believe that if they don’t feel bad, if they don’t have a family history, or if they don’t have any symptoms, then there is no need to do anything.
Hebda: Some people are afraid that if they
go looking for “trouble,” they might find it. I tell them that
yes, we might find a problem, but that is why we do it -- if we
catch it early, we can usually take care of the problem without
too much trouble.
Joy: Most people think that prevention is more complex and time-consuming than it really is. Exercise, mammograms, colonoscopies, vaccines -- these are not complicated or flashy, but they are crucial to maintaining health.
Joy: Every dollar that is spent on
preventive care saves about two to three dollars in medical
costs over the long term. As a patient, how do you want to
spend your money -- with prevention now, or with procedures or
surgeries later on?
Hebda: It’s the same
reason we change the oil in our Toyota. Do we treat our car
better than we treat ourselves?
Sugg: Preventive care is the cheapest, most effective, and most reliable way to maximize your ability to enjoy the things in life that truly matter to you -- whether that’s your family, career, faith, hobbies, or just being alive and well.
Joy: It already is. Genetic testing that is
currently available allows us to identify patients who are at
higher risk for developing conditions such as diabetes, heart
disease, and breast and prostate cancers.
Sugg: Genomics has the potential to
“customize” preventive medicine for patients. We know a lot
about preventive care by looking at large populations; genomics
can provide a more sophisticated way to zoom in on specific
individuals who are identified as being at higher
Hebda: But it’s important to remember that environmental influences still play an important role. For example, your genes may show a risk for heart problems, but if you exercise and eat healthy foods and avoid cigarette smoke, you will mitigate or lower your risk.