By: Melody Dizon
I don’t know if you have already hopped on the wagon with DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) or genetic testing. It sure does sound alluring and enticing. You will now know that you are half British, a quarter Mexican and a quarter Asian. To some that may yet be the world to them yet for others, it doesn’t really matter. Others, they say, at least they have an idea what diseases they will be susceptible to later on in life and if there is anything they can do about it now. Perfect example is Angelina Jolie’s genetic variance to breast cancer hence, the preventative double mastectomy, things like that make people think and wonder if the $999 was worth the information they get. In her case, for sure it did. I still get mixed views on this. Not that I’d want to withhold anyone fi nding out their chromosomal aberrancies to certain diseases but there are certainly other factors I’d want to consider. Like say for instance, if I was told that I have the tendency to develop Alzheimer disease’ later on in life based on my genetic makeup, does that mean I will get the disease even if I were to do everything right? Play mahjong all day, do crossword puzzles to name a few. How about the food I eat? Does that matter? Or medications I take, does that count? It may not be good to know that I’d develop Alzheimer’s later on since there is no medication yet that would stop that condition and it would just drive me crazy all the time reasoning I have Alzheimer’s now even if I don’t yet. Per research, geneticist have a lot to learn with the other contributing factors that person may have given the susceptibility of a disease.
Let’s try and extrapolate what this whole genome industry is all about so we know what we are really getting into before buying the mail- in- kit.
1. You won’t find out everything about your genes
2. Don’t expect to learn if you’re going to get cancer
3. You’ll learn more about where you came from
4. Your DNA may not be as private as you think What can DNA testing tell me?
• diagnose disease (i.e. Chronic Kidney Disease to Alzheimer’s Diseas)
• identify whether there’s a genetic reason that someone has a disease
• help doctors better understand the severity or type of disease you have to prescribe better treatment options
• determine what gene changes could pass to children
• health risks, inherited conditions (i.e. Cystic Fibrosis, Gaucher disease) and traits.
• identify what gene changes a parent has that they can pass on to children
The Issues with DNA Testing
1. They don’t take into account environmental factors.
2. There’s not always something you can do about the results.
3. They’re not cheap. Prices can range from $200 to thousands of dollars.
4. Can you afford the aftermath? If you do find out that you have a higher risk of a particular disease, you might want to get other tests done, see specialists, get other opinions. These costs do add up.
5. It could affect your insurance.
6. Your doctor might not know what to do with the information.
7. There can be a false sense of security. Just because you don’t have a gene mutation for a particular disease does not mean that you will not get it.
8. The data is limited if you’re not older and not of European descent.
The Benefits of Getting a DNA Test
The clearest benefit of getting your DNA tested is the opportunity to see certain health risks that you might face in the future that you can actually do something about. The idea is that the more you know about potential problems, the more proactive you can be in avoiding them. t gives you a chance to educate yourself a little on your history, and when you have the info in your hand, you can walk into the doctor’s office and talk about very specific issues.
My few cents
It’s also worth pointing out that a DNA test is not a replacement to a doctor visit. If anything, it’s something you can consider arming yourself with on your next doctor appointment. Your healthcare provider will be able to read your results better and can create preventative plans moving forward.
The ancestry information is interesting on its own, and if you don’t know a lot about your family history or background both sets of results might prove helpful.
Ultimately, my DNA is not my DESTINY. Your DNA is not your DESTINY. For the most part, our genes contribute to—but don’t defi ne—who we are. Our genes may shape our personality, our height or outlook, but it’s often the combination of genes, our experiences and what we are exposed to that ultimately determine our physical and psychological state.
References: time.com, draxe.com, lifehacker.com