DNA testing is used in so many different ways today. It is not only useful for forensic research and paternity tests. It’s also an amazing tool we can use to improve our health.
Some of us are born with genes which make us more susceptible to certain diseases such as cancer and heart disease. DNA testing can reveal those bad genes and give you insights which can help you adjust your lifestyle and diet, leading to better health.
DNA testing is a bit like a prediction of your future health and gives you the power to take action straight away. This is such an amazing option we all have and is now available through various providers online.
Benefits of DNA testing
So why should you take a DNA test and is it really worth it?
None of us really know what genes we have and whether they will contribute towards us developing certain diseases but once you add DNA testing to this, it becomes less of a guessing game and more of a certainty which helps you take appropriate actions so that you could stay healthy.
Do you have a history of cancer in your family? Do you maybe see a pattern in your family when most of the women get breast or ovarian cancer? Are you worried that you will get it too? Did you know that one of your genes could be faulty and your risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer could be greatly increased? A genetic test will tell you whether you carry faulty genes or not.
A few years back Angelina Jolie took one of these tests and was told that she had an 87% risk of developing breast cancer. She took some drastic measures in order to prevent the worst happening to her and had a double mastectomy (both breasts were surgically removed). This preventative surgery was quite extreme but may have saved her life. However, it’s good to know that also if you test positive, it’s not guaranteed that you will develop cancer. Apart from genetics, there are also other factors which play a role, such as a lifestyle and your environment.
DNA test does not only reveal your risk of certain types of cancer, it can also look at other genes and can identify your risk of heart disease and whether you have genetic predisposition to develop things like Celiac disease, lupus, psoriasis, etc. There is even cystic fibrosis test.
The benefits of DNA testing should be clear by now. Find out what your DNA weaknesses are and take preventative actions to reduce your risk of developing certain diseases or conditions. Prevention is better than cure, right?
Where to get your DNA analysed
If you are worried about your risk of a particular disease your first port of call is NHS (in the UK). Talk to your GP and see whether he can refer you to a genetic clinic. Going through a physician may not be a simple and straightforward process and you may not be successful. In this case, your second option is to pay for a private DNA test.
There are quite a few providers out there who offer private DNA testing for health purposes but after having a browse online it’s clear that they all offer slightly different tests, testing different types of disease predispositions. Some of them mention that their test will look at the variety of diseases and conditions but they don’t state exactly what these are (I found this is the case with 23andMe).
If you are interested to know your risk of a specific type of cancer, for example, then you will need to find a provider who will test for this type of cancer. It sounds logical but don’t assume that if they test for a variety of cancers, that the one you are interested in is also on the list. I found that EasyDNA don’t have ovarian cancer on their list, for example.
One of the DNA testing providers which I also looked at and which, in my opinion, stand out are called Dante Labs. Once you land on their home page you can see their most popular tests straight away and browse all their tests with a click of a button. I really like that you can find everything so quickly on their website. Their hereditary cancer DNA test includes ovarian cancer and lots of others. They also do heart disease risk assessment and they even offer whole genome sequencing (your complete set of DNA, which is 6 billion letters long).
No doubt that DNA testing is the future of healthcare. Our health is our biggest wealth (whether we know it or not!) and we can only do so much to stay healthy, but DNA testing can give us more power and more control over our own health. The question is: do we want it? Do we want to know our risks?
The DNA testing is not for everyone. You need to understand what you are getting yourself into and what could results mean for you.
However, it does make sense to get your DNA analysed for particular faulty genes, especially if a certain disease runs in your family. It may well extend your life, you never know.
Would you consider DNA testing for health purposes?