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Genetically Speaking Blog

Prostate Cancer: Do I need genetic testing?

by Joy Larsen Haidle, MS, LGC

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Joy Larsen Haidle, MS, LGC, is a past-president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and a genetic counselor at the North Memorial Health Cancer Center in Minneapolis.


When Al Roker announced his prostate cancer diagnosis, he shared his desire to use his platform to educate others, presenting an ideal time to continue the conversation.  Prostate cancer is common for men--1 in 9 will develop prostate cancer over their lifetime.  However, those odds increase to roughly 1 in 7 for African American men. Many prostate cancers are slow growing and lead to a good prognosis, however, some prostate cancers are more aggressive and finding those cancers early becomes important to help those men do well too.

Genes for the Culture – An Interview with Dr. Janina Jeff

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A part of NSGC’s “Genetic Variation” blog series that aims to give a voice to diverse members of the genetic counseling community. Genetic variation refers to diversity in gene frequencies and can also relate to differences between individuals or populations.

To kick off this series, we’ll start with an interview with Dr. Janina Jeff. She’s known to her followers as the “Geneti-SIS” is the creator and host of “In Those Genes”, a hip-hop inspired podcast that uses genetics to uncover the lost identities of African descended Americans through the lens of Black Culture. Dr. Jeff was the first African-American to receive a PhD in Human Genetics from Vanderbilt University and she is a TEDx speaker, writer, STEAMinist, collegiate lecturer and hip-hop enthusiast. In July, Dr. Jeff was awarded the 2020 Advocacy Award by the American Society of Human Genetics and just this month, “In Those Genes” was awarded the 2020 Third Coast/Richard H Driehaus Foundation Competition International Impact award.

NSGC Past-President and Personalized Medicine Expert Erica Ramos interviewed Dr. Jeff regarding her role as an African-American scientist in a field dominated by white males and the goals she has for the “In Those Genes” podcast.  

Breaking the code: What DNA can tell you about weight loss

by Trish Brown, MS, CGC

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What is the secret to being successful on a diet?

It’s a question that people have been trying to answer for years and a topic that is frustrating for many.   Why do diets seem to work for some people and not others? How come some people eat whatever they want and never gain a pound while others diet and continue to struggle with weight? People swear by diets like keto, paleo or fasting, touting weight loss of tens or even hundreds of pounds, but when others attempt these diets, they see no results. Why?

Newborn Screening Basics

by Kerrianne Fry, Genetic Counselor & Ashley Bricker, Parent Advocate

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Newborn screening is a group of screening tests performed shortly after a baby is born, typically while they are still in the hospital. It includes an evaluation of hearing, heart function and specific conditions detectable via blood. The goal of this type of testing is to look for critical conditions that, while not immediately noticeable, can impact the long-term health of a newborn. This allows for early detection, diagnosis and intervention to improve a child’s quality of life as well as reduce risk for disability or even death.

Ovarian Cancer: Awareness means silent no more

by Joy Larsen Haidle, MS, LGC

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Ovarian cancer can be a silent killer. Most women are diagnosed with this cancer at later stages, as the symptoms are often silent or not recognized as indications of cancer in earlier stages in the midst of busy lives.  As a genetic counselor, I frequently meet with women diagnosed with ovarian cancer and their family members to discuss the odds that the disease could be inherited, and I address their concerns and questions about cancer risk.  Below are some of the common questions I hear that may be  relevant to you or someone you know.

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