Dr. Edwin M Knights is a cancer expert, a DNA expert and a genealogist. He is board-certified in anatomical and clinical pathology. During his long professional career, he helped perfect ultramicro methodology for clinical laboratories and assisted in introducing numerous tests for diabetes control, cystic fibrosis and liver function. He has written two books, edited another, and was a contributing editor for a national medical journal. He has authored or co-authored 123 articles. He served as director of several hospital and private laboratories, medical director of BioScience Laboratories in Michigan, and was President of the Michigan Society of Pathologists and Oakland County Medical Society. Together with biochemist George A. Fischer, Ph.D., he founded GeneSaver® in 1996, providing an efficient means for families to preserve their DNA.
I have met Dr. Knights several times and must say that I am very impressed with his genealogical credentials as well. He has written several articles for publication, most of them detailing the relationships of medical conditions, DNA and family trees.
Dr. Knights has written an article entitled, "How to Cope With Cancer." In this article, he describes the causes of cancer, including exposure to carcinogens as well as genetic predisposition to cancer. It is this "genetic predisposition" that should interest every genealogist. In short, your genealogy studies may predict and possibly reduce the impact of cancer in you or in your loved ones. Think about that for a minute: you could be the life saver of your family.
The article starts with, "Is there cancer in you family’s medical pedigree? And if so, how are you going to find it? From death certificates? Obituaries? Perhaps they will help, but death certificates were established as public health documents, not for the enlightenment of genealogists, so don’t get your hopes too high! It may take some real detective work, but it’s certainly worth the try. So let’s get out your family pedigree chart and see how we succeed. Let’s begin with the most recent generations."
The article then goes into detail on may different topics related to cancer. One item that impressed me is Dr. Knights' discussion of why cancer is so much more common today than it was 100 to 150 years ago. It seems that the average white male of 1850 had a life expectancy of 38.3 years while white females lived an average of 40.5 years. In short, the majority of these people did not live long enough to get cancer! As medical improvements and dietary improvements helped us live longer, we then became susceptible to more medical problems, especially those problems predominantly found in middle age and in the elderly.
Dr. Knights also suggest that everyone should create a chart of your family’s medical history. This chart will be a family tree which includes important information needed to trace heritable diseases in your family.
All this, and many more items of interest, are discussed in "How to Cope With Cancer" by Dr. Edwin M Knights, published on the New England Historic Genealogical Society's web site at http://www.newenglandancestors.org/education/articles/DNA/dna_confronted_cancer.asp
I would suggest that this article be required reading for all genealogists.