Tips for Health

Genetic Testing: What You Should Know

By on March 26, 2012 in Health with 0 Comments

What are genes and how do they relate to disease?

Genes are sets of proteins that are present in every cell of our body. Genes are found on chromosomes and they control growth and help you stay healthy. Sometimes, when genes are abnormal or damaged, they may not work properly, which can lead to disease. Some genetic abnormalities or “genetic mutations” may run in families. Some just happen by chance. Sometimes a mutation can be causes by a person who has a disease, but most diseases are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

What is genetic testing?

Genetic testing can help you see if you have inherited a tendency to get certain diseases. It usually requires a blood sample or skin sample for genetic testing. Testing for genetic mutations is gradually becoming available.

What is a positive result?

A positive result means you have the mutation for which you have undergone the test. A positive test result means that you may be more likely than most other people to contract that a particular disease, but definitely not mean that you will get the disease.

What is a negative result?

A negative result means you do not have that particular mutation. This may mean that the disease is not hereditary in your family. A negative test does not mean that you will not get the disease. It just means that you have no more likely than others of getting the disease.

Who should be tested?

By looking at your family history, your doctor can tell if it is likely that you have a gene mutation that may contribute to disease. A disease can run in your family if a blood relative developed the disease at an early age, if several family members have the disease or if the condition is rare. People from certain ethnic groups may be more likely to get certain diseases. If one member of your family already has the disease, then that person should be tested first. This helps show which genes, if any, are associated with the disease.

How do I decide if I should get tested?

If you think you may have a high risk for an inherited disease, talk with your family doctor. Your doctor will ask about your health and the health of your blood relatives. This information will help your doctor determine what risks might be. The information your doctor gives you about your risks can help you decide whether or not to be tested.

There are two important questions you should think about before genetic testing:

1.) What will I gain by being tested?

Here are some reasons why you would want genetic testing:

  • You will not be so worried of getting a disease.
  • Probably you will have the opportunity to change their lifestyle to reduce your risk of getting a disease.
  • Your doctor will know how often to check to determine whether a disease is developing.
  • You may be able to take medicine to prevent disease.

2.) Are there any negative effects of the tests?

Here is a list of reasons why you might not want to know that you can be at risk for certain disease:

  • Testing may more worried about getting sick.
  • Testing may give you stress, make you feel guilty or strain on family relationships.
  • Testing could lead to problems with employers or insurance companies.

 

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