Dr Serdar Savaş is a celebrated doctor from Turkey. Upon completing his graduation from Kabataş Male High School and Istanbul Faculty of Medicine, he commenced work as a doctor in primary health care centres. In 1988, he was selected as the advisor to the Minister to develop the national health policy by the Ministry of Health in 1988. He played a significant role in the restructuring of health systems of Central Asian countries. He enabled the establishment of the Kazakhstan School of Public Health and the Central Asian Republics Network. Further, Dr Savaş was paramount in setting up the national capacities in different underdeveloped Asian Countries. An authority in the fields of molecular genetics, biotechnology and chronic diseases, he has had three of his books published by the World Health Organization (WHO). In his recent visit to Nepal, New Business Age had a chance to interact with Dr Savaş. Excerpts:
Most physicians and dietitians suggest eating fruits and vegetables and reducing or stopping meat and sugar. How correct is this approach?
There is no ‘one solution for everyone’. However, if we are obliged to provide one solution for everyone, then vegan nutrition is the most appropriate one.
Peoples are trying to limit themselves to a vegetarian diet. How can they get the proteins they need?
Several sources can provide proteins. Primarily, our daily diets should include vegetables, grains and legumes to get proteins also known as amino acids.
Please tell us something about genetic diseases. Are they communicable or non-communicable?
We need to make a distinction between genetic disorders/diseases and genetic predisposition. Genetic diseases are mostly hereditary diseases like PKU, cystic fibrosis, tularemia; children are born with these diseases. However, genetic predispositions do not cause diseases directly. One needs to be in adverse environmental effects and an unhealthy lifestyle to trigger genetic predispositions. These are so-called chronic-complex diseases. This group is also referred to as non-communicable diseases.
Is there a discipline for preventing genetic disease?
Genetic screenings can detect hereditary genetic disease. There is no prevention from genetic disorders, but detection could be possible.
What is genetic testing? What are the methods?
There are many methods, including gene sequencing, Mass Array, Micro Arrays, among others.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of genetic testing?
The only drawback might be comparatively high prices.
How can learning about our family's health history help us avoid diseases?
One should be screened for diseases that had occurred in the family.
Would you mind sharing some examples of using genetic information in the treatment of illness?
This area is called pharmacogenetics. We can identify the right medicine and the right dose.
Is there a genetic factor involved regarding strokes?
Yes, there are many genetic factors for all kinds of complex conditions, including strokes.
Can breast cancer be genetically passed on?
There are two types of breast cancers:
1. Hereditary breast cancer - (BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes) These are a small proportion of all breast cancer cases.
2. Sporadic breast cancer - These are not hereditary, but the individual would have a genetic predisposition to the disease.