DNA kits have grown in popularity over the years. The interest in these kits shows an increase in curiosity concerning genetic testing. Genetic testing examines your DNA to help reveal any mutations in your genes that could cause illness or disease. Mail-in kits can provide indications of risk factors, but they rarely can be used for an actual diagnosis.
When it comes to factual, accurate genetic testing, it is best to discuss your options with your doctor. Genetic testing isn’t 100% accurate, and it often indicates a likelihood rather than a reality of developing a serious illness or condition. These test results also usually include speaking with a doctor or genetic counselor to fully understand your results.
What Is Genetic Testing Used For?
There are numerous reasons to have genetic testing done, regardless of what age you are. Genetic testing can help you understand your risk factors, allowing you to research and prepare for any potential conditions that could develop in the future. Genetic testing is used for a wide variety of ailments including:
- Cancer. When it comes to most forms of cancers, early detection is key. This helps individuals develop a medical treatment plan and can provide more beneficial results. Genetic testing can indicate risks of different cancers including colon cancer, thyroid cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and breast or ovarian cancers. Genetic cancer testing can help individuals know if they have specific gene mutations that could put them at a higher risk.
- Parkinson’s disease. This disease is the result of a loss of brain cells that produce dopamine. It can cause trembling of limbs, jaw, or face, as well as stiffness, slow movements, and a lack of balance. It most commonly develops in people over the age of 50. Genetic testing can provide indications of potential risk factors of developing this disease later in life.
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This disease causes the retina tissue of the eye to deteriorate. It is one of the most common causes of irreversible vision loss in Americans over 60. It is often a result of both genetic and environmental factors.
- Bipolar disorder. This illness is most often characterized by severe mood swings. Researchers have discovered strong genetic components when it comes to developing this disorder. Individuals with parents or direct relatives with this disorder have a stronger likelihood of developing it themselves.
- Psoriasis. This autoimmune disorder is characterized by scaly, red lesions that can develop on any part of the body. The National Psoriasis Foundation found that nearly 7.5 million Americans are living with this condition — and 80% of psoriasis development cases can be attributed to genes.
Benefits of Genetic Testing
Genetic testing can’t provide definite results, but it can provide strong indicators of risk. Genetic counseling can help you better understand your results and what to do with them.