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What Types of Genetic Tests Are There? Should I Test One Gene or All of Them?
There are three broad categories of genetic tests, each with its own strengths.
- Single gene testing: this type of test is used to isolate a specific gene and examine it for problems. This test is usually ordered when a patient is diagnosed with certain genetically heritable diseases, such as sickle cell disease, or when there is a family history of abnormality with that specific gene. The single gene test usually rules out or confirms a prior diagnosis. This test tends to be cheaper, quicker, more specifically sensitive, and experience fewer unexpected findings.
- Panel testing: this type of test examines all genes related to a specific disease or physical attribute. The focus here is to determine which genes hold a mutation. Epilepsy is a medical condition that might prompt a panel test, as there are over a hundred genes that may influence the condition, but only a few need to be abnormal for the condition to manifest. Panel testing helps doctors narrow down the cause of a condition to tailor their medical recommendations, medication, and dosage. This test is a little more expensive than single gene testing, a little slower to process more genes, and trades a bit of specific sensitivity for broad, possibly uncertain findings, but is useful for obtaining faster, more specific medical treatment in some situations.
- Large-scale genetic testing/genomic testing: these types of tests are often ordered for patients with complex medical histories, looking over the entire genome or even the DNA itself for abnormalities and mutations. While effective at finding said abnormalities, such large-scale tests might also reveal other unrelated genetic information that may not be relevant to the patient’s current medical concern. An example would be performing a large-scale genomic test for a predisposition for cancer and finding a predisposition for heart problems as well. These are the most expensive type of tests with the slowest turnaround time and least specific sensitivity. They are designed to pick up changes in genes more than identifying what those changes are, and have a high capacity for uncertain findings. They are, however, useful for helping doctors narrow where to look on the gene for abnormalities.
Consult your doctor or gene therapist for more information on which type of test is best for you. If your doctor requests the test as part of your medical plan typically Medicare will pay if approved, unlike products Anavar that is a cash-only product not covered by health insurance or health sharing plans. If you have questions about your medicare supplement or medigap plan call the helpline.
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I Tested Positive for an Abnormal Gene. Am I Going to Get the Disease?
While genes determine many of our physical traits, which include anything from hair texture to genetic diseases, the presence of an abnormal gene or gene sequence does not guarantee that you have or will develop a given disorder, simply that you are at much higher risk for doing so. Take a genetically inheritable form of breast cancer as an example. Women who test positive for a genetic abnormality in the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genes have a lifetime risk of 69-72% for developing breast cancer, compared to the standard 12% risk for women without the genetic abnormality. Having a genetic abnormality in either of these two genes means the person is six times more likely to develop breast cancer over the lifespan.
However, likelihood to develop a disease is different from a diagnosis with the disease. Because gene expression can be altered by our physical environment (like a person getting used to a radically different climate if they live there long enough), there are steps you can take to help minimize your chances of developing a genetically linked disease if you carry an abnormal gene.
- Follow a healthy diet: eating well, possibly with plant-based meals, will help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, as well as help limit the risk of prostate cancer.
- Exercise regularly: keeping your body in shape will strengthen your heart, allowing it to resist getting disease or be stronger if you do contract it. Being fit also reduces chances of certain types of cancers.
- Regular testing/monitoring: If you are not diagnosed with a genetically linked disease but still carry the gene, it is wise to get regular screens for the disease, as many are far easier to manage if caught in their early stages.
As always, consult your doctor about creating a wellness plan tailored to your specific needs.