27 March 2007

Your Genealogy Affects Your Health: Book Review

When I found this title some months ago, self-published in 2006 at iuniverse by F. Clark Fraser , Emeritus Professor of Human Genetics at McGill University, I hoped for enlightenment on the impact of different DNA mutations on health. Fraser’s slim book quickly scotched the idea. In most cases disease results from a combination of genetic and environmental causes, the genetic depending on factors associated with different chromosomes.

The main chapters are:
1. Genetics in a Nutshell;
2. Family Resemblances: Common Normal Traits;
3. Genetics of Common Physical Disorders;
4. Genetics of Behaviour: Normal and Abnormal.

The book provides general findings, in no way a substitute for consultation with a medical professional about your personal situation. I found it informative and even entertaining in places. Fraser has a career’s worth of experience from which he draws short anecdotes which lightly punctuate the text.

Your Genealogy Affects Your Health can be purchased online, either for download as an Adobe eBook($6US) or in hardcopy ($12.95US) here. There's a copy in the Ottawa Public Library.

For those wanting more detail Fraser recommends OMIM, the Online Mendelian Inheritance of Man Database, although he warns “you need to wade through a lot of material …”. Another web site recommended at the end of the book, The Centre for Genetics Eduction (Australia), is more oriented to the layperson. They are conducting a Family Health History Campaign, the material for which includes a handy form to use in talking to your family doctor.

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