Genetic Counselors and You
By NSGC Headquarters
Genetic Counselors and YouNov 12, 2021
How Does Family History Impact My Risk for Diabetes?
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimated last year that around 1 in 10 Americans has diabetes. And since November is a time when we often get together with relatives, some of you may be wondering, “How worried should I be about Diabetes based on my family history?” This episode will help to answer some of those questions.
In this episode, we invited Dr. Toni Pollin to share her thoughts. Dr. Pollin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition and in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where she also leads a PhD/MS Track in Human Genetics. She is a board-certified genetic counselor and has a PhD in human genetics. For over 20 years, she has studied the genetic factors and their interaction with lifestyle, pharmaceutical, and environmental factors in type 2 diabetes and related cardiometabolic traits as well as conducted translational studies in how to identify, diagnosed, and promote individualized therapy for highly genetic diabetes subtypes known as monogenic diabetes. Her work has been funded by the American Heart Association and several NIH institutes, and she has authored or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications.
Do My Genes Impact my Risk for Prostate Cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society, other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. In fact, 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. (ACS) What factors increase my risk for prostate cancer? Family history? What can I do?
In this episode, we invited Joy Larsen Haidle, a board-certified genetic counselor, to share her thoughts.
Joy is leader in cancer genetic counseling who has authored several practice guidelines and published articles on topics such as Lynch syndrome, a disease that increases one’s risk for cancers, particularly of the colon and rectum; and juvenile polyposis, a disorder characterized by polyps in the gastrointestinal tract. She also was on this podcast 2 years ago! A past president of National Society of Genetic Counselor, Joy is a genetic counselor at North Memorial Health Cancer Center in Robbinsdale, Minn.
NOTE: Please note that during this podcast the use of the word "male" is used to refer to cisgeneder malesResources
For more information on the topics discussed in this episode, visit https://www.aboutgeneticcounselors.org/ and the following webpages:Prostate Cancer: Do I need genetic testing? I Want to See a Genetic Counselor: How Do I Make That Happen? https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/about/key-statistics.html NCCN Prostate Cancer Early Detection v2.2021 (Accessed 8/23/21)
My Nutrition, My Genes
With areas opening back up across the country and world, many are looking forward to going outside during the summer. After being stuck at home during lockdown, many might be thinking more about their “summer body” and wondering whether a DNA test can optimize their nutritional health.
In this episode, we talk with Jill West, a Registered Dietician Nutritionist, to share her thoughts.
Jill has over 25 years of experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist, and has her own private practice Jill West Nutrition Consulting serving clients throughout the US. Prior to starting her own practice, she published the book, 400 Moms, about helping busy parents feed their kids. She has worked in several major medical centers including Joslin Diabetes Center, University of California, San Francisco Medical Center and University of California, Davis Health System.
How Genetics and the COVID-19 Pandemic Impact Mental Health
The COVID-19 pandemic, racial uprisings, and the resulting economic recession have impacted many people’s mental health. One study suggests that ~4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, up from ~1 in 10 adults before the pandemic (https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/). How do genetic and environmental factors impact our mental health? What should we do to maintain our mental health, especially during this time? In this episode, we invited Ramona Moldovan PhD, a genetic counselor and clinical psychologist, to share her thoughts in honor of mental health awareness month.
For more information on the topics discussed in this episode, visit https://www.aboutgeneticcounselors.org/ and the following webpages:Family Ties: The Impact of Genetics on Your Mental Health
A Genetics Expert Helps Us Make Sense of COVID-19 Vaccines
Information about the COVID-19 vaccines is rapidly emerging. Suddenly, we’re hearing terms like mRNA and DNA everywhere. For some of us, we haven’t thought about these concepts since high school biology… and now we have to make health decisions based on these concepts, which brings up questions. How exactly do these COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work? How risky are they, and can they change our DNA? In this episode we speak to a genetic counselor, a specialist in genetics, to make sense of what’s going on around us. As always, we suggest ways help you navigate and apply things in your life.
For more information on the topics discussed in this episode, visit https://www.aboutgeneticcounselors.org/ and the following webpages:“COVID-19 Vaccines Can’t Alter Your DNA, Here’s Why” by Victoria Forster in Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/victoriaforster/2021/01/11/covid-19-vaccines-cant-alter-your-dna-heres-why/?sh=26ff7a3d2491 “How Do the COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines Work?” by Ellen Matloff in Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellenmatloff/2020/11/21/the-covid-19-vaccines-that-genomics-built/?sh=152d6a075cdb Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Understanding mRNA Vaccines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html
You can reach special guest, Lydia Higgs at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Demystifying Insurance to Unlock Genetic Counseling and Genetic Testing Opportunities
In honor of Genetic Counselor Awareness Day, we hope this episode helps you learn new ways to access genetic counseling services as we tackle a complex topic with an expert genetic counselor.
Health insurance can be complex. How do you know if something is or isn’t covered in your plan? And what if you don’t have insurance? This can make decisions about your health, which may include genetic testing and genetic counseling, even harder to figure out. It might make some of us avoid genetic testing or genetic counseling altogether, if we have a choice. But is that the right thing to do? In this episode, we speak to Heather L. Shappell, MS, CGC, a genetic counselor with expertise in this area, to help demystify insurance as it pertains to genetic testing and genetic counseling.
For more information on the topics discussed in this episode, visit aboutgeneticcounselors.org and the following webpages:Does Insurance Cover Genetic Counseling and Testing? Protecting Your Privacy (about genetic discrimination) Coverage and Reimbursement of Genetic Tests from National Human Genome Research Institute
Addressing Systemic Racism and Disparities in Genetic Testing
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During this global pandemic, social inequities and health disparities are being exposed and discussed more than ever. For some, it’s the first time we’ve talked about social justice or systemic racism in healthcare. For others, we’ve felt their effects for some time. These inequities and disparities also exist within the genetic testing experience. In this episode, we speak to expert researcher and genetic counselor, Altovise T. Ewing, PhD, LCGC, to raise awareness of these issues for people having genetic testing, so they can better navigate them. We also suggest ways that genetic testing developers, marketers, and medical professionals can be aware of and work to dismantle these inequities.
For more information on the topics discussed in this episode, visit aboutgeneticcounselors.com and the following resources:“Black History Month: Bearing the torch of equity as an African-American genetic counselor and scientist” by Altovise Ewing, PhD, LCGC: https://www.nsgc.org/p/bl/et/blogaid=1092 “How Genetics, Race, and Inequality Play Into Misdiagnoses” by Altovise Ewing, PhD, LCGC: https://opmed.doximity.com/articles/how-genetics-race-and-inequality-play-into-misdiagnoses?_csrf_attempted=yes “About Genetic Testing”: https://www.aboutgeneticcounselors.org/Genetic-Testing NSGC Podcast Series, August episode on diversity and inclusion in genetic counseling research, training, and practice: https://www.nsgc.org/page/podcasts Genotypecast podcast from Grey Genetics, Sep 3 episode on being Black in genetic counseling: https://anchor.fm/genotypecast The Beagle Has Landed podcast, Jul 6 episode on racism and genetic counseling: https://beaglelanded.com/
The "Uncertainty" of Genetic Testing
There are many things we know when it comes to genetics and health. There’s also much we don’t know, which is to be expected with fast-moving science. Genetic testing can bring out this uncertainty when results aren’t as clear as we’d hoped. And when you layer in a global pandemic that has many unknowns, this can get really difficult. In this episode, our host, Deepti Babu, MS, CGC sits down with Marleah Dean Kruzel, PhD to offer listeners ways to navigate uncertainty when it comes to genetics and genetic testing.
For more information on the topics discussed in this episode, visit aboutgeneticcounselors.com and the following webpages:“How Do I Understand My Test Results?” “How to Navigate Imprecision in the Precision Medicine Era” by Deepti Babu, MS, CGC Marleah’s Story in the CDC’s “Bring Your Brave” Campaign:
How Secure is Your DNA with At-Home Genetic Tests?
At-home DNA tests are popular, but some direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies have cut their workforce following a slowdown in sales. Is the tide changing? If so, why? In this episode, our host, Deepti Babu, MS, CGC sits down with Dawn Barry, president and co-founder of B Corp, LunaPBC, who launched LunaDNA, a community-owned platform for health research. Deepti and Dawn talk through growing consumer concerns with the privacy and security of their genetic information.
For more information on the topics discussed in this episode, visit aboutgeneticcounselors.com and the following webpages:Is Your Genetic Privacy Protected? Protecting Your Privacy LunaDNA Study Reveals Privacy as Top Consumer Concern with DNA Test Kits
How to Make the Most of Your DNA Test Holiday Gift
At-home DNA tests are a popular gift, especially during the holidays. Did you receive one, by surprise or because it was on your wish list, and now you’re wondering how to take advantage of it? It’s great that you’re thinking about it, and you’re in luck.
Season 2 of the Genetic Counselors and You Podcast Series kicks off with NSGC Ancestry Expert, Brianne Kirkpatrick, MS, LCGC, as she sits down with this season's host, Deepti Babu, MS, CGC, to discuss how to make the most of your DNA test holiday gift.
For materials mentioned in this episode, visit aboutgeneticcounselors.com and the following webpages:What is At-Home Genetic Testing? Will an At-Home DNA Test Tell Me What I Want to Know? What Can Genetic Testing Tell You and How Can It Help?
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the National Society of Genetic Counselors and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want to help women learn the steps they can take – like genetic testing and genetic counseling – to understand their risk for breast and ovarian cancer.
This episode is presented by NSGC Cancer Expert, Joy Larsen Haidle, MS, LGC, and family physician Sarah Coles, MD.
For materials mentioned in this episode, visit aboutgeneticcounselors.com and the following webpages:Bring Your Brave campaign Learn Your Family History of Breast and Ovarian Cancer What is At-Home BRCA Genetic Testing?
What Genetic Counselors Don't Do
In episode three of the Genetic Counselors and You podcast series -we're myth-busting! What does the “counseling” in “genetic counseling” really mean? Do genetic counselors tell you how to make medical decisions? Do genetic counselors have all the answers? How precise is precision medicine?
Join current NSGC Director At Large - Deepti Babu, MS, CGC - and Secretary/Treasurer-Elect - Scott Weissman, MS CGC - as they tackle these questions.
For materials mentioned in this episode, visit aboutgeneticcounselors.com and the following webpages:How to Navigate Imprecision in the Precision Medicine Era What Genetic Counselors Don't Do What Does Genetic Counseling Involve?
Genetic Counselors and Your Healthcare Team
In this episode of the Genetic Counselor and You series, current President of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), Amy Sturm, MS, CGC, LGC, sits down with David Rolston, MD (Geisinger) to discuss how genetic counselors play an active role in patient care and how they work with other healthcare providers. The episode also emphasizes how genetic counselors’ special training in genetics and counseling sets them apart from other healthcare providers.
For materials mentioned in this episode, visit aboutgeneticcounselors.com and the following webpages:I Want to See a Genetic Counselor - How Do I Make That Happen? Genetic Counseling vs. Genetic Testing How Should You Prepare for a Genetic Counselor Visit?
What is a Genetic Counselor?
In the first episode of the Genetic Counselor and You series, Past-President of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), Erica Ramos, MS, CGC, sits down with current President of NSGC, Amy Sturm, MS, CGC, LGC, to discuss who genetic counselors are and why you might see one. Join Erica and Amy as they discuss what genetic counselors do and don't do, the benefits of integrating a genetic counselor into your healthcare team.
For materials mentioned in this episode, visit aboutgeneticcounselors.com and the following webpages:Who Are Genetic Counselors? Genetic Counselors Help Families Unlock Keys to Their Health Genetic Counselors: Who We Are, What We Do and Where We’re Going