DNA Testing can Show if you are at Risk for Certain Diseases

DNA Molecule

DNA testing has become very popular and while many people who invest in DNA testing are only trying to find their roots and ancestry, other people are investing in DNA testing to discover genetic health markers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave permission last year for 23andMe to test for inherited diseases.

Simple Saliva Test

A simple saliva test you do yourself at home can show if you are at risk for certain hereditary diseases or if you are a carrier of a gene that could affect your children or grandchildren. DNA test results should be shared with your doctor, who may recommend lifestyle changes or do further testing to see if you are showing symptoms of a particular disease.


If you are found to be a carrier of certain diseases you can pass them on to your children. Usually a carrier has only one gene which does not affect the carrier. However, if your child who carries this particular gene marries someone who also carries the same gene, then they could have a child with the disease.

Not Everyone who is at Risk Will Develop the Disease

DNA results should not be viewed as the predestined route to the future. It is imperative to keep in mind that just because there may be a genetic risk for certain diseases, this does not mean that you will get them. Lifestyle factors also can help prevent the onset of a disease. On the other hand, people can get certain diseases even if they do not have a genetic risk for them. Lifestyle, environment and other diseases can trigger illness even if it did not show up in DNA.

Lives can be Saved

Lives can be saved by knowledge that you have a hereditary risk for certain diseases and your doctor can put you on medication or suggest lifestyle changes that can prevent getting some of these diseases. For example, if you show a risk for celiac disease, you can go on a gluten-free diet, even if you do not show symptoms for celiac.

Lifestyle Changes

Also, learning about your potential risk for certain disorders like lung disease can motivate you to make certain positive lifestyle changes like giving up smoking, making better dietary and nutritional choices and getting more physical exercise. If you see you have a genetic risk, you might make more of an effort to lose weight, to control your blood pressure, to pay more attention to preventive medicine and participate in early screening for certain high risk diseases.

Invest in Long-Term Care Insurance

Also, if you are found to be at risk for certain neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s then you could invest in long-term care insurance just to be on the safe side in case you do develop Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Remember, you may never develop these diseases, but families are financially drained when a family member gets a disease like Alzheimer’s. However, according to the AARP, although U.S. laws protect people from being denied health insurance based on genetic tests, this does not include long-term care, disability and life insurance. In some states insurance agents may ask you if you have had genetic testing.

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If you or your loved one are in need of short or long-term care the Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation is a 5-star facility on eight acres of woods and gardens in Galloway Township, New Jersey, that provides excellent care in rehabilitation. They also have a state-of-the-art memory impaired unit.

Most Diseases do not Develop because of only one Gene

Even if there is a genetic risk for a disease, it may take more than one genetic risk factor to develop such a disease and lifestyle and environmental factors also play a large part in whether or not such a disease is going to actually come into reality. For instance obesity and diabetes can lead to many diseases and if there is also a genetic risk then the only thing you can do to try to avoid the disease would be to lose weight and get your diabetes under control.

DNA Testing can Relieve Anxiety or Increase it Depending on the Results

For instance, most people would be relieved to learn that they are not carrying a gene for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease that today are incurable. On the other hand, learning that one has one or both of these genes associated with a high risk for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s could throw a person into panic mode. Anxiety, worry and stress over the results may be harmful for some people. Some forgetfulness is a normal part of aging, so you should not panic and assume you are getting dementia. In fact a new study shows that there are some people with classical hall marks of Alzheimer’s disease who do not develop dementia even though they have beta amyloid plaques and tau tangles in their brains. Keep in mind that this is not a blueprint for the future. Also, diseases that have no cure today may have a cure tomorrow. However, if you or your loved one can be depressed or upset by these results it would probably be best not to be tested for them. You can request not to get reports for some of these diseases. When you do get reports share your results with your doctor.

Diseases that can be Inherited that are Tested for by 23andMe

  • Celiac disease
  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration (eyes)
  • Late Onset Alzheimer’s Disease APOE
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Hereditary Thrombophilia (tendency to form blood clots)
  • BRCA1/BRCA2  (certain kinds of breast, ovarian and prostate cancer)
  • Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (lung or liver disease)
  • G6PD Deficiency (hemolytic anemia)
  • Hereditary Hemochromatosis [HFE‑Related] (can cause buildup of excess iron)

Carrier Disease Genes Tested for by 23andMe

  • ARSACS       SACS 1
  • Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum with Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease
  • Beta Thalassemia and Related Hemoglobinopathies
  • Bloom Syndrome
  • Canavan Disease
  • Congenital Disorder of Glycosylation Type 1a
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • D-Bifunctional Protein Deficiency
  • Dihydrolipoamide Dehydrogenase Deficiency
  • Familial Dysautonomia
  • Familial Hyperinsulinism
  • Fanconi Anemia Group C
  • GRACILE Syndrome
  • Gaucher Disease Type 1
  • Glycogen Storage Disease Type Ia
  • Glycogen Storage Disease Type Ib
  • Hereditary Fructose Intolerance
  • Herlitz Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa (LAMB3-Related)
  • Leigh Syndrome, French Canadian Type
  • Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type 2D
  • Dystrophy Type 2E
  • Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type
  • MCAD Deficiency
  • Maple Syrup Urine Disease Type 1B
  • Mucolipidosis Type IV
  • Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis
  • Lipofuscinosis (PPT1-Related)
  • Niemann-Pick Disease Type A
  • Nijmegen Breakage Syndrome
  • Nonsyndromic Hearing Loss and Deafness
  • Pendred Syndrome and DFNB4 Hearing Loss
  • Phenylketonuria and Related Disorders
  • Primary Hyperoxaluria Type 2
  • Rhizomelic Chondrodysplasia Punctata Type 1
  • Salla Disease
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Sjögren-Larsson Syndrome
  • Tay-Sachs Disease
  • Usher Syndrome Type 1F
  • Usher Syndrome Type 3A
  • Zellweger Syndrome Spectrum (PEX1-Related)

Funding DNA Health Testing

Genetic testing like the kind that comes from 23andMe.com costs $199.


Learning about a possible risk for an inherited disease can inspire you to make lifestyle changes that might prevent the disease like going on a gluten-free diet to prevent celiac disease. However, some people will not be strong enough to accept their results, especially if they are for incurable diseases and should not be tested.


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