It's kind of amazing what science can come up with. Today, you can order a kit off the internet, provide a sample of blood, cheek cells, or even just some spit, send it off to a lab, and discover important health information that is revealed by your genes. There has been some debate about how accurate some of these tests may actually be. In any case, deciding to take a closer look at what your genes may hold can provide you with the information you need in order to make some choices about how to manage your health. It also reveals what you may, potentially, pass on to your children.
While not all diseases, disorders, or conditions can be reliably determined by a genetic test, there are quite a few that can be. What happens if you learn that your genes include a mutation or variation that has been identified as a risk factor for a certain disease? You should speak with your doctor about treatment options.
Here is a quick list of some diseases that you can learn about from a genetic test:
• Breast and Ovarian Cancer
A genetic test will determine if you have a specific mutation on your BRAC1 or BRAC2 genes. People who have these mutations have an increased risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer.
• Celiac Disease
About two million Americans are affected by celiac disease. Genetic tests can look for the presence of specific version of genes called HLA-DQ, which is a gene that is involved with an immune system protein. This version of the gene is located on Chromosome 6. If other members of your family have celiac disease, there is increased potential that you will have it too.
• Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Genetic tests look for a group of genes called ABCR. Certain variations on those genes increases a person's chance of having AMD by 30%
• Bipolar Disorder
A genetic test can look for a protein marker that is encoded by the ANK3 gene. It can also look for a mutation on a gene called “Fat”, which is located on Chromosome 4. People with this mutation are twice as likely to have Bipolar Disorder than people who do not have this mutation.
There are a lot of different factors that can contribute to a person becoming obese. Many of these factors include lifestyle choices. Genetic testing can find out if you have a variation on your FTO gene. People with that variation are, on average, seven pounds heavier than people without the mutation.
• Parkinson's Disease
Genetic tests can take a look at the LRRK2 gene, and search for any variations that it may have. People who have a specific mutation on this gene, called the G2019S variation have an increased risk of developing this disease.