What are the implications of genetic testing?
The implications of genetic testing can be confusing to individuals who do not know whether testing is the right option. They may feel pressured to try it, based on something they read. They may want to know as much as possible about their health, but are frightened of the unknown.
DNA Testing Choice is filled with useful information, including a list of the DNA tests you can take to assess your genetic predisposition to disease, or make fitness and diet recommendations.
If you are considering other types of test, you can find DNA tests in a variety of categories so you can choose one that is right for you. There are also news releases and reviews, so you can have the latest updated information. Whether you decide to have a test, or decide you do not want to be tested at this time, you can be an informed consumer.
Implications of genetic testing: The benefits
There are many benefits to genetic testing. While each person has their own unique needs and preferences, consider how these benefits may apply to you. Genetic testing can be an opportunity to make lifestyle changes. If you learn you have a genetic predisposition to a certain condition or disease, making lifestyle changes today may reduce your risk. For example, your genetic makeup could mean a healthier diet, regular exercise, or restricted alcohol intake could produce greater than average health benefits. You can have a healthier body, and a lower risk of serious illnesses in the future.
Genetic testing can encourage you to take a proactive approach to healthcare. If you find you are genetically predisposed to a specific condition, you can present this information to your personal physician so you can have an early test for the condition. Early and routine DNA tests for a disease can result in early detection. When your physician detects a disease in its earliest stage, you will benefit the most from treatment. Even if the disease is incurable, you can have a healthier life.
An additional benefit of early DNA testing by your personal physician is early medical intervention which may save your life. As an example, routine testing for cancer can result in your doctor diagnosing cancer before it is too late. The sooner medical intervention takes place, the better the prognosis will be for you. Prompt surgery, or another appropriate treatment method, may increase your lifespan.
Most responsible adults feel knowledge is personal empowerment. The more you know about your future, the more equipped you will be to deal with it. This is especially true when the subject is your health, and a disease you may develop in the future. You want to know what may happen so you can prepare for it. Perhaps you can develop a health and wellness plan with your current physician, or ask for a recommendation so you can consult with a specialist. While you may not be able to prevent a disease, you do not have to wait and worry. You can have a sense of control over your future healthcare.
There are some conditions for which there are currently no cure. Genetic testing can result in the opportunity to seek counselling for the mental and emotional upsets that come with the diagnosis of an incurable condition. The implications of genetic testing are not nearly as stressful as an actual diagnosis. Counselling can be useful to your mental health. You may be less likely to suffer from extreme anxiety or depression over an incurable condition.
When you know you are at a high risk of developing a certain disease, you can also take a proactive approach toward plans for the future. Depending on your personal situation, this may include plans for the financial aspects of treatment, the need for skilled nursing care, the effects your illness may have on your family, and other issues. The opportunity to plan can provide a sense of security. If you do develop a serious or terminal condition, your family members will not be burdened by issues you can deal with today.
There are some genetic conditions that can affect the way some medications work, and the safety of various medical procedures. There are some genetic mutations, for example, that can increase a person’s sensitivity to certain medications. When you have knowledge of this issue beforehand, it can prevent serious complications or save your life. Your physician can prescribe medications that are safe for you, or choose an alternate form of treatment if a procedure is dangerous.
The implications of genetic testing can include heredity. If you learn a certain condition or disease runs in your family, you may not want to pass it on to your own children or future generations. In these cases, you may feel it is a wise decision to not have children. You may believe it is unfair to burden children with a higher than normal risk of a serious health problem. However, if you already have children, your own results can help you decide to have your children tested, or encourage them to take this step themselves if they are adults.
Disadvantages of genetic testing
There are pros and cons of genetic screening for health conditions, and you should consider the disadvantages before you reach a decision. We go into the more general potential difficulties that may occur if you decide to be tested.
If a test shows you are predisposed to a certain condition, it is not absolute proof that you will develop the condition. Even if you learn how and why your risk is higher than normal, many other factors can be involved in whether or not you develop it. Learning you are predisposed to a condition can result in needless worry.
There is no test that is 100% fool proof. There is always a chance that the results will be wrong. Although genetic tests have a high degree of accuracy, you cannot count on the results of one test to determine exactly what your future will hold.
The psychological implications of genetic testing vary from person to person, but most individuals will be affected by learning they are genetically predisposed to a serious or life-threatening medical condition. A person whose test results show they are in a high risk category may experience psychological issues ranging from panic, depression, or anxiety, to suicidal thoughts or behaviours. This is one reason the decision to be tested should not be taken lightly. That person may lose hope for the future, give up entirely, or waste their life worrying over factors they cannot control.
There may be concern for the stigma connected to certain conditions. Not everyone is knowledgeable, open minded, or supportive. When test results show you may develop a disease in the future, you may have reason to be concerned about how people will treat you, and how they will think of you. This can lead you to become embarrassed, ashamed, or self-conscious. You may be afraid to reach out to people in your life for understanding, compassion, and support.
You may also be concerned about discrimination. If there is stigma attached to the condition, or if it is a condition many people are misinformed about, you may wonder if test results will affect your everyday life. Perhaps you are concerned that you may not be able to find a job, because an employer will not want an employee who may become ill. Perhaps you are single, and worry that predisposition to a serious medical condition will damage your chance of a happy relationship, or harm your social life.
Genetic testing during pregnancy can cause concerns for the unborn child. If test results show the child could be born with birth defects or other serious health issues, or have a high risk of developing problems later in their life, you may be in a situation for which you are not fully prepared.
You may be torn between your religious beliefs and ethical principles, and the need to do what is best for your child. You could be in the painful position of choosing between an abortion and waiting. This could be one of the most difficult decisions for a parent who is concerned about the long-term health of their unborn child.
Pros and cons of genetic testing: Other tests
While there is a wide range of genetic tests available that can determine your predisposition to numerous health and medical conditions, there are other tests that are entirely different. Depending on your personal needs and goals, there can be genetic screening pros and cons for these other special tests, too.
One category covers tests for genetic ancestry. It has become more and more popular in recent years for individuals to want information about their roots. Genealogical DNA tests can provide information about your lineage, ethnic group, race, and more. This type of test can be especially useful for individuals who wish to trace their family histories. You may have little information about your ancestors and ancestry, or simply want scientific facts to include in your family tree records.
There can be complications with genealogical DNA tests. First, some test results are difficult for the average person to understand. Second, important information can be missed. Most tests will not cover your entire ancestry. Third, it is not impossible for mistakes to be made in genealogical testing. You should consider the pros and cons, and read reviews of the tests before you purchase one.
A second category is paternity testing. If a man, woman, or couple want to know who fathered a child, a paternity test kit can be purchased to use at home. This is a simple, inexpensive way to establish paternity. A ‘legal’ paternity test can be purchased if the results need to be admissible in court. Paternity tests may provide peace of mind, but consider the possible effects on your relationship. When the alleged father requests a paternity test, the mother may take it as an accusation of infidelity. When a mother requests it, the alleged father may assume it is for the purposes of obtaining child support.
For these reasons, discuss the test and your reasons for wanting it with your spouse or partner. Honest, open communication can help you avoid a misunderstanding, and make paternity testing a positive experience. It does not have to be a time for anger and distrust.
Genetic testing: Making the decision
The testing process can be a positive or negative experience, but most individuals can expect to face both the advantages and disadvantages of genetic testing. After all, it is an emotional issue that can impact your life, other people’s lives, and the future. If you are considering testing for predisposition to medical conditions or diseases, a sensible approach is to discuss it with your family members and your physician. While they may offer advice, you need to know you can count on their support regardless of the outcome.
Second, review the pros and cons before you decide you are ready for this step. Although a test cannot be 100% conclusive, you need to know you are prepared for the results. Whether the results are favourable or unfavourable, it can be a step toward important changes in your life and your lifestyle.
Third, read reviews for the particular test you are considering. You may want to know what others who have taken the test think about it, how easy it is to use, and if they were satisfied with the results.
Genetic testing is not for everyone. The test results are only one factor in your overall satisfaction. If testing is to be a useful experience, you must also consider your goals. If your goals include creating a healthier lifestyle, making responsible plans for your future, and preparing for whatever may be ahead, testing can be beneficial. You know a test cannot determine, with 100% certainty, whether risk will lead to a specific disease. However, you want to give yourself the best possible chance at a healthy life and a normal lifespan. These reasonable goals can make genetic testing useful. Your test results can be an opportunity to make changes in your life that may decrease your risk of disease, and give you the opportunity to live your life to its fullest. Knowledge can change your life for the better.