Genetic testing has become drastically more accessible to the general public over the last few years. Some of these tests have been around for some time but are only now available for reasonable prices due to advances in the testing process and technology. So now that we can easily take these tests, should we make them a part of our standard physical exam?
First lets look at the different benefits to be gained from genetic testing and what genetic testing can tell us about ourselves.
There are many diseases that we inherit genetically from our parents and their ancestors. Many diseases don’t show strong signs until a person has had them for some time. Knowing that you have a good chance of having one of these diseases in the future is great information to have ahead of time so that you can potentially find and treat them before things become too severe. Some of these diseases include cancer, Celiac disease, age-related macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, psoriasis, and many more.
Recessive Disorders Passed Through Pregnancy
As just mentioned, parents can pass along predisposition to hereditary genetic diseases to their children, and these diseases may or may not materialize. With genetic testing, both parents can be tested prior to a pregnancy to find out whether or not their children are at risk for certain diseases. Most of the time, these “recessive disorders” need to be passed down by both parents for the child to be affected, but even with both parents passing down the same gene, there is still only a 25% chance that the child will actually have the disease. Knowing this information prior to having a baby can be very helpful for knowing what to watch out for with your child. You may be able to find a life changing disease before it has a significant effect on your child’s life.
Self Improvement and Increased Efficiency
Some of the more recent testing programs provide reporting about how our bodies process food, perform during exercise, and even age – introspective information about how our bodies work that can make our lives much easier. A lot of people aren’t the biggest fans of working out, so wouldn’t it make sense to do it as efficiently possible and get the most out of it? It can also be fairly discouraging to keep working hard but never see any significant results, which easily happens if you are working against your genetics. We have programs for both healthy weight loss and healthy aging. Our healthy aging program, which is available for pre-order, will tell you how to slow down the negative effects of aging.
Soon, you may even be able take physical performance one step further and attempt to reach your ultimate genetic potential. We are currently working on a program for this, as well.
Medication Sensitivity (VERY IMPORTANT!)
Knowing what diseases to look out for could save your life, but knowing which medicines people are sensitive to will save thousands of lives annually. Medications don’t always work for everyone, and that can mean big trouble if you are depending on that medication to survive. Adverse drug reactions are the 4th leading cause of death in the US, according to Rxight, claiming more than 100,000 lives each year. Rxight (don’t ask me how to pronounce that) makes a test that measures drug sensitivity based on your genetic makeup. I actually insist that this become a common test. It’s a no brainer, and should be a part of our Electronic Medical Records.
Genetic tests can tell you more about your heritage and where your bloodline comes from. This isn’t really helpful for your health, but it is interesting.
So in summary, genetic testing can tell us what diseases we and our kids might develop, how to get the most out of our bodies, how to fight the effects of aging, how to know which medicines do or don’t work on our bodies, and the ancestry of our blood lines. If the goal of a physical is to check your overall health and make sure you don’t have any medical problems you are unaware of (which it is), then it seems pretty obvious that the advantages of genetic testing will only enhance the goal of a physical and end up saving lives.
Yours in Good Health,