Your genetic health is the likelihood of you getting a disease or health condition, such as cancer or obesity, based on genetic traits you inherited from your parents. Certain diseases or health conditions can be passed from parent to child. Even if these diseases or health conditions skip a generation or two, you may still be at risk. Here are a few ways that you can determine your genetic health.
Look at Your Family Tree
This is one of the easiest methods of testing your genetic health. Compile a list of your family members. Include diseases they suffered and health conditions that affected them over the course of their lives. For each family member listed, note the age when they first became afflicted with each disease or health condition. If a family member perished from a disease or health condition, record the age of death. If you begin to see a pattern, it could mean you’re at risk. However, it’s best to take this information to a genetic counselor who is better able to interpret the results.
Studies in genetic health have found genes and combinations of genes that increase the likelihood of certain diseases and health conditions—such as cancer. Expensive tests can be performed to determine your genetic health, and whether you are at risk.
Home DNA Tests
Using home DNA testing can determine your genetic health. Tests like these are not considered as accurate as testing you can receive from doctors or genetic counselors. Interpreting the results of your home DNA testing is complicated, so you should include your doctor or a genetic counselor to help interpret the results.
Advantages of Testing Your Genetic Health
- Early detection of your genetic health can decrease health costs later on. It enables you take preventive measures early on based on your risk factors.
- You can determine your likelihood of passing on poor genetic health to the next generation before making a decision on whether or not to have children.
- Figuring out your genetic health can also help you make lifestyle changes that may keep you from getting certain diseases or conditions
- Certain genetic conditions can be corrected with treatments.
Critics of Genetic Health Testing
The testing of genetic health is still a new science and not accepted by all yet. Opponents of genetic health testing believe it is an invasion of privacy. Critics also agree that testing of your genetic health can be misleading. Just because you have a higher risk for a disease or health condition, there’s no guarantee you will become afflicted by it.
Conversely, just because your genetic health indicates you have no risks, it doesn’t mean you’re safe. Critics caution that using genetic testing to make decisions about your health can have lasting consequences. Always talk to your doctor before making any decisions about change in medication or lifestyle based on genetic health testing.