DNA Testing for Your Health?

By Noelle Adams

My dad was recently diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes. It was surprising but not wholly unexpected. Why? Well for one, and I want to preface this by saying I love my dad very much, he’s a bit on the chubby side (he makes a GREAT Santa though!) which is something he could change if he were inclined to do so. Unfortunately, the bit that he can’t help is his DNA.

Our family is genetically predisposed to a condition called Reactive Hypoglycemia, which is where our bodies have difficulty determining how much insulin to produce. Yes I know that sounds like Diabetes, but it is slightly different. Diabetes is where the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use the insulin as it should, leading to insulin resistance. Non-diabetic Hypoglycemia can be caused by a number of different external and internal factors including genetic inheritance. This type of hypoglycemia is a strong risk factor for developing Diabetes and guess who else in our family has it?

Yep. Yours truly.

I’ve had to deal with hypoglycemia ever since my first pregnancy ended and made it glaringly obvious I couldn’t miss meals (passing out sucks). Honestly, at 34 years old I’ve resigned myself to the idea that I may one day have to chop my foot off because I can’t give up chocolate (Seriously, if that’s the choice, I’ll embrace the one-legged lifestyle and enjoy my chocolate until it kills me) But what about my kids? I have four gorgeous (if I do say so myself) girls that may have inherited those disease riddled genes and while we are active and I do everything I can to make sure they’re eating right (chocolate is a food group right?) It still may not be enough. DNA dictates everything your body does and remaining ignorant of the instruction manual doesn’t make the problem disappear.

So where do I start?

Several companies now offer DNA testing for medical purposes without a doctor’s prescription allowing more people the ability to gain insight into their own bodies that they previously wouldn’t have knowledge of. “The industry is set to grow even more as restrictions on the medical uses of these tests are eased. The Food and Drug Administration recently announced plans to make it easier for these kinds of tests to win approval.

Many physicians welcome the trend, saying it’s giving people valuable information. Consumers can find out early whether they are at increased risk for cancer, Alzheimers and other diseases — and take steps to protect themselves. The testing can also sometimes help identify the safest and most effective medications to use.” – https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/06/18/609750963/results-of-at-home-genetic-tests-for-health-can-be-hard-to-interpret tests that identify genetic predisposition to certain types of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes are all now currently in use in the medical field, but until now you had to have a doctor order them for you and they were $$$EXPENSIVE$$$. Now, for a couple of hundred bucks, you can gain access to that information that will allow you to make better-educated health and life choices for yourself.

The only downside I see is that, unless you are a trained geneticist, you probably won’t be able to interpret your results very well. Fortunately, there are people called genetic counselors (No I am not making that up) that have made careers out of helping people interpret their at home DNA results. One of the more popular companies providing this service is the National Foundation for Genetic Counselors at https://www.nsgc.org/

As for me, I think I’ll get those tests done and get a little more prepared for the future. After all, prosthetic legs only get more expensive. Now, where’s the chocolate?

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