Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Gene Mapping for Healthy People No 'Crystal Ball'

Mapping Fails to Predict Most Diseases: Study

Gene Mapping Not Always Informative continued...

In the case of Alzheimer's disease, for example, the research suggests that a whole-genome map would identify most people with at least a 10% lifetime risk of developing the disease. Still, "a 10% risk for disease does not imply that this disease will be his or her major health problem," Vogelstein cautions.

What limits the usefulness of genes to predict disease? Contrary to what most people think, environment plays only a small role in changing your genes, Vogelstein says. "Much more important are random mistakes in genes that occur when cells divide," a process that starts in the womb, but can also occur anytime throughout life, he says.

Whole Genome Testing: Experts Comment

The key to fighting cancer and other disease remains routine checkups, early screening tests, and a healthy lifestyle that includes not smoking and maintaining your ideal weight, among other strategies, Vogelstein says.

Timothy Rebbeck, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, notes that the current findings only apply to healthy people, and that gene mapping can be beneficial for identifying inherited illnesses or for finding the best treatments for people who are already sick.

"For someone who has disease, whole-genome sequencing can be extremely valuable," he says.

Louis M. Weiner, MD, director of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C., says that the study offers "a cautionary tale not to rush into using new technology" until its benefits and limitations are understood.

Whole-genome testing, which cost several hundred thousand dollars only a few years ago, can now be performed for $1,000 to $3,000, though it varies form company to company.

Vogelstein receives royalties on sales of technologies or products related to the study.

1 | 2

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing