Genetic testing can tell us a lot about our bodies and minds, and the things that built them. Genetic tests have been on the rise due to the popularity of things like Ancestry and 23 and Me. These systems claim to be able to connect you to your origins and long lost family members.
Genetic testing in this way makes sense. We know (vaguely) where specific gene patterns arose and where people with them congregated or spread. Any other people who have uploaded genetic material have enough genetic similarities that it’s easy for technology to pair them together by family.
Even prenatal genetic testing is popular, both for paternity and to screen for problems.
But what can’t genetic testing test for? Let’s talk about it.
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This is a mixed bag. Genetic testing does have the potential to help identify problematic genes and gene mutations to help someone determine their susceptibility to certain conditions.
Tests administered by a doctor may be helpful if someone has an immediate family member who has had cancer. The testing can identify gene mutations that may or may not lead to the same result.
Unfortunately, the mutation isn’t a sure sign that the cancer is going to happen. Sometimes lifestyle factors are more important, or it was a combination of risk factors and the gene is irrelevant.
In other words, while this can provide some insight, patients are often misled into believing that a clear scan means there’s no risk, or a notable scan means that cancer is almost certain.
This being said, genetic testing is good for treatments of certain diseases, like cancer.
There are testing tools that can be used as early predictors for certain cancers and diagnostic tools for diseases that are already present in the body. Read more here.
There’s been a trend in psychiatry towards using genetic testing to determine what kind of medications are going to be best for the patient.
The psychiatrist orders a swab test and prescribes based on the results. Does it really work?
While some patients have had success with medications that come from this test, there’s no real evidence to indicate that the tests have anything to do with the results.
Some results were also skewed due to patients coming from bad psychiatric treatment and suddenly getting better quality care. The test results may be a placebo or they may just be an indicator of moving to a better doctor.
The diet industry is rife with false claims about food. Everyone wants to find that one perfect diet that will solve all of their problems. Is genetic testing the answer?
No, not really.
There is little to no evidence that suggests that pricey genetic tests are the answer to your dieting woes. But what about disease-related diets?
As we mentioned before, genetic testing isn’t reliable for identifying whether most diseases are possible for the patient. Diseases that affect the diet, like celiac disease, is no different.
While you may contain a gene that indicates you could get celiac, you also share that gene with many people who don’t have the disease.
In other words, your chances of getting celiac, even with a positive test, are only about 3%. Family history is more important here.
Have You Gotten Genetic Testing?
Genetic testing is valuable and it’s improving every day, but it’s not a miracle. It won’t help you identify the root cause and treatment of all of your ailments. It’s best used for people with a direct connection to a specific condition who may be more at risk than others. Even then, it’s not a guarantee.
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