In This Article
In This Article
Your DNA contains surprising details about your health. And if you’re like most Americans, you probably want to know about your health risks.
This kind of information can be useful, but only if you know what to do with it.
Most genetic testing kits can identify genes that increase your chances of developing certain diseases.
Some DNA tests (like 23andMe Health) can do more and check your carrier status for mutations that might cause genetic disorders in your future children.
When you get your results, there are three things you can do:
Your doctor can interpret your test results and explain what they mean about your health.
After interpreting your report, they might do additional tests. For instance, if you tested positive for genes linked to hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), your doctor will likely:
If it turns out that you’re a carrier for some genetic mutations, they can tell you what it could potentially mean for your child’s health.
The doctor might also refer you to a genetic counselor.
You can take your DNA results to a genetic counselor to interpret them. Genetic counselors are healthcare professionals who specialize in genetic risks.
They can help you understand how your genes affect you and your immediate family members, including your children.
Your health reports can serve as a starting point for a genetic counselor. They can use it to decide which genetic tests to give you.
From there, they can assess whether your genetic profile and family history put you and your child at risk of developing certain diseases–and to what extent.
Genetic counselors may also provide information about hereditary diseases and other factors that further increase these risks.
If you’re planning to have a child, a genetic counselor can determine whether one or both parents carry genes that increase their chances of inheriting a genetic disorder.
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Whether you’re going to see a doctor, a genetic counselor, or both, they will do more than interpret your DNA reports. They’re going to walk you through a few recommendations.
These recommendations will depend on their findings. They might ask you to take more tests or adjust your diet and lifestyle.
And it’s up to you whether or not you will follow their professional advice.
For example, a person with genetic variants linked to type 2 diabetes may be asked to regularly test for blood sugar levels at home.
If you’re positive for gene variants that cause genetic diseases like colorectal cancer, your doctor or genetic counselor might screen you and your close relatives for colon cancer.
Diagnostic tests help ensure you haven’t developed the diseases you’re at risk for and that your family is safe.
Testing positive for disease-causing genetic variants doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have these diseases. They increase your risk of developing them later in life.
Factors such as your eating habits, level of physical activity, environment, and stress can trigger genetic risk and cause disease.
Your doctor or genetic counselor knows this, which is why they can guide you on your next steps. They can help you make healthier choices and reduce your genetic risks.
If you have already developed a medical condition, it isn’t too late to follow professional advice and lead healthier lives.
These changes can still reduce your symptoms and help you prevent complications or your condition from worsening.
23andMe Health + Ancestry is our top pick for genetic health testing. It’s the only at-home DNA test with FDA approval to provide these reports:
Besides health testing, the kit can trace your ancestry and help you find relatives. If you want to know what you’ll be getting with these reports, you can read our 23andMe review.
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