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No Average People

For personalized medicine to continue its advance toward treating patients based on their unique genetic needs, clinicians and scientists are going to have to get over thinking of people in terms of averages, CDC's Muin Khoury says.

Khoury, director of CDC's Office of Public Health Genomics, in his blog highlight's a recent tweet from Eric Topol, which took to task an article offering information about "your odds for cancer.

"Wrong! This is average; average is over… when do we get smart?" Topol tweeted.

"When it comes to disease risk, nobody is average," Khoury writes.

He says scientists are getting frustrated about the "fixation about having some guidelines or recommendations for all people."

If a study says that drinking three cups of coffee a day is good for you, that doesn't take into account that at least 20 percent of people carry an allele that reduces the metabolism of caffeine – an allele that also has been linked to heart attack risk.

If everyone is biologically unique, then it only makes sense that this uniqueness should be applied to disease prevention, Khoury says.