With their many benefits, DNA tests have the potential to become an important part of the healthcare of tomorrow. Here is what you need to understand how DNA tests might protect your health and well-being.
In our pursuit of the understanding of life, we have moved from organs and cells to much deeper – understanding our genetic blueprint.
With information from our DNA, preventive healthcare enters a new frontier with great potential for improving lives. So how did those tiny molecules called genes landed at the forefront of future healthcare?
Making preventive healthcare personal
Genetic testing is becoming a foundation of personal healthcare because it is based on your unique characteristics.
Here is a simple example. If your doctor knows you have a genetic predisposition for high cholesterol, he can help you implement immediate nutritional and lifestyle changes. He will also monitor your cholesterol more closely. Otherwise, it is likely he would discover elevated cholesterol when it has already begun affecting your health.
In terms of preventive healthcare, DNA tests have many advantages. They are as individual as it gets, and the information they provide has lifelong value.
The importance of proper results interpretation
Genetics can be puzzling, so the results of DNA testing have to be understandable to anyone without a PhD in natural sciences. Need a quick refresher course in Genetics 1.0? We’ve got you covered: revise what genes are and what they can tell us.
A good interpretation of DNA test results has to be clear, simple, and make sure that you understand some key points.
Genetic test results are not a diagnosis. Carrying a genetic predisposition for a disease or condition does not mean that you already have or will inevitably develop it. It just means that you have higher chances.
That being said, you should never neglect the role of the environment, including your lifestyle. If we have “good genes”, we often think that we can get away with anything.
You might be lucky to have genes which protect you from obesity. But if you turn into a couch potato (who only gets up to get another snack and a Coke) even the most favourable genes won’t protect you from obesity and heart diseases!
DNA testing is not just about the diseases – it can reveal some pretty cool stuff too. Want to know how you tend to respond to stress, if you have a sweet tooth, or finally settle that debate about what you should choose – running or yoga? Take a DNA test!
The value of genetic information
Genetic information has profound personal value for you – today and in the future.
A DNA test can help you adjust your current nutrition, lifestyle, medications, and exercise to feel and perform better on a day-to-day basis.
For example: if you discover that you are lactose intolerant, you can easily avoid bloating, cramps, and other discomforts you’ve been experiencing after consuming milk and dairy.
Knowing your risk of developing many chronic conditions prompts you to start taking preventive measures today for a healthier tomorrow.
If you discover a genetic predisposition for cardiovascular diseases, you can adjust your nutrition and lifestyle today to avoid complications in the future.
A DNA test provides valuable information not just for you, but also for your family.
Like hair colour and other traits, diseases can also pass down from generation to generation. You won’t necessarily develop them, but if you carry certain genetic variants, your children might. Such knowledge gives future and young parents time and opportunity to make the best decisions and create the best environment for their family.
DNA tests and preventive medicine play on each other’s strengths to create an action plan for a healthy life. And that makes it very likely that routine DNA testing will become an integral part of preventive healthcare.