It’s All In Your Genes: Can DNA Tests Predict Your Future Health Challenges?
I'm an old Eagle Scout and maybe the Scout Motto has never left me. "Be Prepared". It's good to be slightly paranoid about your health. Not to the point of paralysis, but it's smart to take advantage of new technologies that can help you manage the various health risks you inherited from your parents, and their parents.
DNA testing is becoming more accepted and powerful, offering new, cost-effective ways to track not only your genealogy and where you're from, but helping you manage your health, and even predicting what conditions you may be genetically predisposed to in the future. Years ago I order a $169 DNA test from 23andme and I'm still reaping the benefits. Knowledge is power, right? No needles, no blood. You spit in a tube, send it in to the lab and a week or two later you're scrolling through your own personalized online portal, seeing what your DNA has to say about where you're from, and what conditions and diseases you may be more vulnerable to down the road. A bit morbid but necessary.
No big surprise here. I knew I was mostly German, Swiss and French, with a dash of British and Irish blood. I did NOT realize I have DNA variants from Neanderthals, and I'm related to Thomas Jefferson on my father's side!
Here is another page from my online report (which continually updates). I may be at elevated risk of Macular Degeneration, but the variant for Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease was not found in my DNA. That doesn't mean I won't get either disease, but the odds are lower than average. Whew...
You can opt into the ability to find and connect with relatives you never knew you had, all based on your shared DNA! Still not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing...
My DNA test with 23andme predicted I'd be lactose intolerant before I became lactose intolerant! That was a wake-up call to pay attention to some of the other DNA clues swimming around in my body. Yes, my eyes are in fact hazel.
I was definitely not expecting this result and I still laugh when I see this. Muscle composition common in elite power athletes? Um, sadly this DNA marker did not help me excel in sports during high school and college, but it's nice to know that if I need a brief burst of super-human strength, my genes may be up to the task.
Getting a DNA test is a personal choice, but I've found the downside is fairly low. Counselors are available if you want to talk to someone (especially as you discover whether you have the DNA variants for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease). It's all online, and it's private. Ancestry.com is another good alternative worth checking out for DNA testing.
Hey, you may even be surprised who you're related to!