The Anonymous Widower

Angelina Jolie Gene Testing For All?

The title of this post is the same as this article on the BBC.

This is said.

Testing all women for the “Angelina Jolie gene”, even if not considered at risk, would prevent cancers, save lives and is cost effective, say doctors.

Having lived for forty years with my wife, who suffered breast cancer and then a few years later died from a squamous cell carcinoma of the heart, I know a lot about the emotional problems of cancer.

Many cancers and other diseases, like my coeliac disease, can be found in our genes.

Our youngest son died of pancreatic cancer, which was probably not helped by his smoking and poor eating and health habits.

If he had been a coeliac, which could have been likely because of my genes, that wouldn’t have helped either! But he wouldn’t be tested!

Speaking for myself, my life might have been very different, if I had been genetically tested as a child!

In the future, genetic testing will become much more the norm, as doctors, researchers, scientists and engineers will reduce the cost of doing a full genetic test.

The BBC article also says this.

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, estimated the impact of screening all 27 million women over 30 in the UK.

They said it would:

  • prevent 64,500 more breast cancers
  • prevent 17,500 more ovarian cancers
  • save 12,300 more lives

The study also said mass screening would be cost-effective for the health service.

But why stop at breast and ovarian cancer?

I feel strongly, that anybody likely to be a coeliac, should be tested at birth.

Keeping to a gluten-free diet, is getting easier every year and research at institutions like Nottingham University has shown, that coeliacs on a gluten-free diet are significantly less likely to get cancer, than the general population.





January 18, 2018 Posted by | Health | , , , | 2 Comments

Sibling Wars

I agree with the princess in this story on the BBC, which is entitled Genetically-modified crops have benefits – Princess Anne.

But I doubt her elder brother does!

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Food, World | , , | Leave a comment

I Thought Dinosaurs Were Extinct

I watched a lot of the debate the so-called three parent babies and am very pleased that the House of Commons voted in favour. The debate is covered fully in this article on the BBC web site.

I saw several men and no women put up ridiculous arguments as to why they were voting against. Several of these dinosaurs are listed as Roman Catholic on Wikipedia.

But David WillettsLiz McInnes and Jane Ellison amongst others put forward sane arguments that carried the day.

No MP has any business to use principles of his or her religion to legislate for others in the UK, who do not share their faith.

So if a Jewish or Muslim member, wants to bring in a bill banning the eating of pork in the UK, they should have no right.

I am old enough to remember the birth of Louise Brown; the world’s first IVF baby.  We look at IVF as commonplace and Robert Edwards won a Nobel Prize for his work in the field, but at the time it was controversial.

I believe that in a few years time, this technique, which is being developed at Newcastle University, will also enter the mainstream too.

February 3, 2015 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

Three Parent Babies

MPs are set to debate the ethics of so-called three parent babies today.

I was reasonably lucky with my three children and there won’t be any more, as I’m had the snip.

But I’m certain, that C, would have been distraught, if she’d produced a string of handicapped babies. I certainly would have been and any technique that stopped problems is to be welcomed.

So let’s hope narrow-minded religious minorities don’t stop the adoption of this technique.

It is interesting to read this article in the Telegraph, which gives the view of Lord Winston, who is an Orthodox Jew

On a related point, I have a genetic disease, but sadly I only found out about my coeliac disease, when I was fifty. If I’d known earlier, it might have meant that my son, who died from cancer, had been found to carry the disease, so perhaps he would have led a better lifestyle.

If it had been known to earlier generations of my father’s family, I suspect that the family wouldn’t contain the large number of childless females and those who have suffered from serious cancer that it does.


February 3, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Is There A Cardigan Gene?

My father liked to wear cardigans and so does my son.  So is this in our genes?

I obviously don’t have that particular gene, as I’ve never worn a cardigan.

On the other hand, C had lots of them!

June 5, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

A New Superwheat

You’d think as a coeliac, I would not be in favour of the new superwheat developed at Cambridge as reported on the BBC.

British scientists say they have developed a new type of wheat which could increase productivity by 30%.

The Cambridge-based National Institute of Agricultural Botany has combined an ancient ancestor of wheat with a modern variety to produce a new strain.

But I think this is a victory for traditional high-class science. As I understand it, after hearing the scientist on the radio, the combining of the two plants was done using the sort of methods, that have been used for years.  Albeit with some clever seed incubation. No direct manipulation of the genes was involved.

So as this could give a yield increase of 30%, what would happen if these methods were applied to the other staple crops of the world.

Sadly, the problem is that, the Cambridge route doesn’t make any money for the big corporations of this world, who feel that the GM route is much more profitable.

I am not totally against GM, but it has to be used ethically and where it is demonstrated that it the only way to create an important product, such as a new cancer drug.

May 12, 2013 Posted by | Business, Food, News, World | , , | Leave a comment

A Real Redhead

My Aunt Gladys was a real redhead, although she was totally grey when I knew her.

Her likeness drawn by her husband and my uncle, sits and looks down at me, as I type this.

Cousins Reunited

Cousins Reunited

My mother is on the left and Gladys is on the right.

Her likeness drawn by her husband and my uncle, sits and looks down at me, as I type this. She was good to me and C and even paid for our marriage licence, on condition I passed on the value to someone else. Which of course, I did! (I must write that story up some time!) I just did and it’s here.

Incidentally, that red gene is still in my family, as years ago, my beard had a touch of the reds and my son, says his does too.  But that is minor really!

Yesterday, on the Underground, I saw a girl of about ten or so with her mother. She had the most amazing red hair.  It wasn’t short and curly like most red hair seems to be, but long and straight and just clipped into a pony tail. Obviously, because of her age, the colour was totally natural.

They say that people’s fortune is in their face, this girl could have it in her hair.

April 1, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

Is There A Teetotal Gene?

Thinking about the last post about the about of fluids I’m drinking, I do wonder about the drinking habits of my family.

My father wasn’t a heavy drinker and he probably got through about four small bottles of Guinness or cans of Long Life in a week or so.  There was a time, when I used to walk round to The Merryhills in Oakwood to pick it up from their off licence.  But that was all stopped, when they said you had to be sixteen (?) to buy alcohol. He would probably be classed these days as a light social drinker.

I am probably that now, as I like a glass of wine or a bottle of beer with a meal.  I can’t think the last time, I drunk a pint of anything.

But it hasn’t always been thus.  At University, I drunk fairly heavily and I probably did too in my late teens, when I served in The Merryhills.  I remember one night, I had thirteen small bottles of Guinness.

C had a similar drinking pattern, in that she got very drunk once just before I met her and probably twice or so, when we were together. She only drunk wine and the occasional whisky. Even as she was dying, she didn’t turn to the bottle, but partly because the drugs she was on had ruined her mouth.

What about my children? By twenty, none of them were drinking and only one ever drunk heavily.

So there seems to be this pattern in the male in my family, where  drinking is responsible. I was also introduced to alcohol at an early age of about eight, by my father and I did the same to our children.

But where did this responsible drinking come from.

My paternal grandfather, who I never met, as he died before the Second World War, was a serious drinker and a heavy smoker.  He died of pneumonia and asthma, but my father used to tell tales of picking him up at the Conservative Club every night of the week, when he was very much the worse for wear.

My father would always talk about the terrors of alcohol, with reference to his father.  I suppose it hit home because I’d never met him and he had died in his forties.

There may or may not be a teetotal gene in my male line, but it’s more down to parental behaviour.

February 3, 2013 Posted by | Food | , , | 3 Comments

Hope For The Paralysed

I say hope, but this story from the BBC is a good news story to start the week. This is the first few paragraphs.

Scientists have reversed paralysis in dogs after injecting them with cells grown from the lining of their nose.

The pets had all suffered spinal injuries which prevented them from using their back legs.

The Cambridge University team is cautiously optimistic the technique could eventually have a role in the treatment of human patients.

The study is the first to test the transplant in “real-life” injuries rather than laboratory animals.

It may only be a first step on the long road to getting the paralysed to walk again. But it is a very significant first step.

I also think it’s very good, that the scientists did the research on dogs that had been injured in the normal course of life. It shows that often you don’t have to do experiments on healthy animals. All it needs is to think hard about what you’re doing.

So congratulations to Cambridge and its vets and scientists!

I think Jasper the dachshund will be one of the most famous dogs in the world.

November 19, 2012 Posted by | Health, News | , , , | 1 Comment

Vandalism In The Service of Ignorance

The title of this post comes from a phrase, describing the protestors, in the third leader of The Times, which defends the work at Rothamsted to create a strain of wheat , which has a natural repellant effect to pests, by crossing it with mint using gentic engineering,

Genetic engineering is a touchy subject to many, but properly used it should benefit mankind.  The aim of the Rothampsted experiment is to produce a strain of wheat that uses less pesticides.

On the other hand, I would be against genetic engineering, that produced wheat with the so-called terminator gene, that meant farmers couldn’t use some of this year’s crop for next year.

There are now drugs coming on the market, that have been created by genetic engineering using plants or hens’ eggs as a starting point.  Would these protestors stop this process as well? If I suffered from a disease, where the drug could be produced by genetic engineering, I would not be happy.

As I said, provided that the purpose of creating the organism by genetic engineering has a moral purpose, I can see no reason to ban it.

I’m also a coeliac, which is a minor genetic disease. I suspect a few decades down the line, they’ll be able to correct the faulty genes in babies by some clever genetic modification.


May 28, 2012 Posted by | Food, Health | , , | Leave a comment