Genetic testing is quickly growing in popularity, and for several good reasons. Along with offering insight into your health and potential susceptibilities, genetic testing is easier than ever. Many tests allow you to provide a sample from the comfort of your own home and receive the results online in a matter of weeks.
Before ordering your kit, there are a few essential things to know about genetic screening.
- Genetic Screening Can’t Predict the Future
Genetic testing can reveal a lot about your health. Depending on the test, genetic screening can help you determine your risk of developing a particular disease that may be possible to prevent and find out your risk of passing a condition to your child. Other tests can help you better understand your eating habits and ideal fitness routine or improve your skin health.
Despite helping you understand a lot about your genetics, no test can predict your future health. There’s no way to know if you will one day receive a cancer diagnosis, nor can a test tell you with 100% certainty that your child won’t develop an allergy later in life. Rather than use genetic screening to try to predict the future, let genetic screening guide you toward making healthier and more informed decisions.
- Know What You’re Being Screened For
While comprehensive, a single DNA test won’t answer every question you have about your health. There are different types of DNA tests, such as carrier testing, diagnostic testing, predictive testing, and prenatal testing, and each focus on specific health concerns.
For example, diagnostic testing can identify or rule out a specific genetic or chromosomal condition, whereas predictive testing is used to detect gene mutations associated with disorders that appear later in life. Knowing the type of test you’re receiving will help you understand more clearly the kind of results you’ll receive.
- DNA Tests Don’t Solidify Your Future Health
DNA isn’t the sole determinant of a disease. Even if a condition runs in your family, putting you at a higher risk, several other factors come into play, from your genetic variations to lifestyle choices and environmental factors.
This is where genetic screening can be incredibly beneficial. If you learn you’re at a higher risk for developing diabetes, you can take steps now to reduce those risks and improve your health, such as cutting down on your sugar intake and increasing your exercise.
- Seek Professional Advice
Translating the results of a DNA test can be overwhelming, which is why we recommend working with your physician throughout the genetic screening process. A professional can help you interpret your results, understand what you can do to prevent or manage the risks, and what next steps to take, from adjusting your diet to undergoing additional testing.
A doctor can also offer support, as genetic screening can be an emotional process. If a DNA test reveals you are at risk for a disease, your physician can help you understand what this means for your future and how you can work to prevent or mitigate those risks.
- Make Sure the DNA Test is Authentic
There are countless genetic tests you can order online with a few button clicks. However, you want to make sure the company from which you order a test is legitimate. Any lab that performs genetic testing is subject to federal regulatory standards known as CLIA. Labs must adhere to CLIA standards regarding how tests are conducted, the qualifications of lab technicians, and testing procedures and quality control.
Some companies that offer direct-to-consumer genetic tests (meaning you don’t have to work with your doctor) are not CLIA-certified, meaning there’s a chance the tests aren’t valid. To feel more confident in your test results, you may prefer to choose a test provider who requires physician involvement.
Interested in learning more about the type of genetic screening that may be relevant to you? The best way to get started is to speak with your doctor or reach out to a genetic counselor. You can also browse our range of genetic tests to see your available screening options.