Weekly Musings: GPS on Personalized Medicine

I enjoy watching Fareed Zakaria’s CNN weekly news program GPS on Sunday mornings at 11AM. If you miss it, it repeats at 1PM. The Global Public Square reports on controversial and current events from around the world, interviewing thoughtful experts from every field. You’ll always walk away from the show empowered, having learned something new and expansive about the world.

Last week, Fareed interviewed David Agus, MD, professor of medicine at USC, and renowned cancer specialist on the cutting edge of providing personalized genetic treatments to cure and prevent disease. His new book, The Lucky Years: How to Thrive in the Brave New World of Health, predicts that a future where we train our immune system to fight cancer and edit our DNA to erase heart attack risk is closer than we think.

Sounding every bit the holistic professional, he says, “The ability to heal and reverse aging is inside us, but it’s asleep.” He’s referring to the specific markers of wellness and disease in our genetic code we have the potential to switch off and on with precision. His research has pinpointed many of these markers and techniques for controlling them, including genetic testing, drugs and lifestyle changes — the same protocols followed recently by President Jimmy Carter with his cancer episode. Although a highly-accomplished conventional doctor, Dr. Agus sees the future of healthcare in treating the whole body with this type of personalized medicine.

But what if it’s possible to switch these health markers off and on naturally, without drugs and testing? The whole premise of natural healing is grounded in our genetic capacity to self-heal, not be dependent on drugs and manipulation. It’s nice the research now confirms our self-healing biology, but maybe all we need is nutrition, exercise, relaxation, and connection with the natural world to activate it.

Dr. Agus also reported on medical advances due to more patient information now being recorded digitally and shared, allowing patterns of disease and symptoms to emerge and be identified. For instance, the closer you live to an airport, the higher the rate of neuro-cognitive decline you may experience, suggesting the brain needs its quiet time. Despite the many downsides of personal data collection, the wealth of detail analyzed has been “transformative” to medicine in just the seven short years since it began, states Agus.

While the giant googler in the sky records, analyzes and reports back to us everything our inner healers already know, we can just keep going within to find the same.

Carol Bedrosian is the publisher of Spirit of Change holistic magazine. Email carol@spiritofchange.org.