Well Being

Suracell: Personal Genetic Health

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vitaminsNutrigenomics hasn't been on my radar much lately until today when I discovered the Suracell Inc. Blog written by COO/CIO Derek Hornby. Suracell offers a 3-part program:

  1. Science – DNA analysis
  2. Repair – nutraceutical formulations
  3. Core Nutrition – AM/PM nutrition formulas

Both the formulations and formulas are vitamin supplements. The formulations target specific organ systems such as heart & vascular health, bone & joint health, and blood sugar and body fat control while the “nutrition formula” is a horse pill* made-up of over 70 vitamins, minerals and enzymes – one for the morning, one for the evening. Can't say I'm too keen on taking so many vitamins on a daily basis given recent data published in JAMA from a meta-analysis of 68 studies that showed vitamin supplements to be ineffective at best, deadly at worst.

The idea of using DNA information to personalize nutrition and diet recommendations is controversial to say the least. In July 2007, Representative Gordon Smith of the Senate Special Committee on Aging called the nutritional genomics industry, “a fradulent mutation” of genetic science. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in their report that home DNA tests are unreliable and misleading.

When considering the landscape of unqualified health products available, I'm not sure nutrigenetic testing is any more misleading than all the other crazy fitness and diet stuff you see on TV. I don't see the Senate kicking up a fuss about Sole Detox Pads for cleansing your body of harmful toxins or the Vibro Power Belt for slimming. Granted, the idea of collecting DNA causes more anxiety considering issues of genetic privacy. I hope consumers of nutrigenomic tests realize the risk when they apply buccal brush to cheek. (Although you could simply order a test anonymously.)

In any case, I think it's a great move for Suracell to create a blog. If it devolves into a PR campaign, however, few would read it. Hopefully, the blog will give the company greater transparency. Other genetic testing companies have successfully gone blogging, including DNA Direct Talk, and Suracell would do well to stimulate general discussion about genetic influences on health as influenced by nutrition. Featuring client stories as well as other posts by Dr. Vincent Giampapa, their Chairman and Chief Science Officer, and other geneticists on their team would make the blog particularly interesting.

Also, thanks to Derek for supporting my quest to gain access to embargoed materials at EurekAlert! I'll be keeping an eye on you!

*OK, I really don't know how big the pills are.

Tags: genetics, genome, genes, dna, nutrigenomics, nutritional genetics, nutrigenetics, diseases, illness, health, fitness, diet, nutrition, suracell, derek hornby