DNA Testing for Health Risks
Updated on March 18, 2024
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DNA Testing
DNA Testing for Health Risks

Your DNA contains surprising details about your health. If you’re like most Americans, you probably want to know about your health risks. DNA testing can reveal your genetic predisposition and tell you about gene mutations that may cause specific health issues.1

This information can be useful, but only if you know what to do with the results of genetic testing.

DNA Testing for Health Risks 4

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The Best DNA Test for Genetic Risks

23andMe Health + Ancestry is our top pick for genetic testing for health. It’s the only at-home DNA test with FDA approval to provide these reports:

  1. Genetic health risks report
  2. Carrier status report

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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What To Do With Your DNA Health Reports

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 diseases in your future children.

When you get your genetic testing results, there are three things you can do:

  • Talk to a licensed doctor
  • Take your results to a genetic counselor
  • Decide on your next steps

1. Talk to your doctor

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:

  • Conduct a physical examination to assess your current health
  • Ask about your diet and lifestyle so they can identify your risk factors
  • Request a lipid panel test to check your cholesterol levels
  • Assess your family’s medical history for related health conditions

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.2

The doctor might also refer you to a genetic counselor to help assess your predisposed health conditions.

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2. Consider genetic counseling

You can take your genetic testing results to a genetic counselor to interpret them. Genetic counselors are healthcare professionals who specialize in genetic risks.3

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 increase these risks.3

If you plan to have a child, a genetic counselor can determine whether one or both parents carry genes that increase their chances of inheriting a genetic disease.

Decide on Your Next Steps

Whether you see a doctor, a genetic counselor, or both, they will do more than interpret your DNA reports. They will also 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.

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1. Undergo more testing

For example, a person with genetic variants linked to type 2 diabetes may be asked to test for blood sugar levels at home regularly.

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.

2. Make healthier choices

Testing positive for disease-causing genetic variants doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have these diseases.4 They increase your risk of developing them later in life.4

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, so they can guide you on your next steps, help you make healthier choices, and reduce your genetic risks.

If you have already developed a medical condition, following professional advice and leading healthier lives isn’t too late.

These changes can still reduce your symptoms and help you prevent complications or your condition from worsening.

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Updated on March 18, 2024
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4 sources cited
Updated on March 18, 2024
  1. Understanding Genetic Testing for Cancer Risk.” American Cancer Society.

  2. Carrier Screening.” American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

  3. Understanding Genetics: A New York, Mid-Atlantic Guide for Patients and Health Professionals.” National Library of Medicine.

  4. Genes, Behavior, and the Social Environment: Moving Beyond the Nature/Nurture Debate.” National Library of Medicine.

Dr. Dhingra
Dr. Harshi Dhingra
Medical Reviewer
Dr Harshi Dhingra is a licensed medical doctor with a specialization in Pathology. Dr. Dhingra has of over a decade in diagnostic, clinical, research and teaching work, including managing all sections of Pathology laboratory including histopathology, cytology, hematology and clinical Pathology.
Ada Sandoval
Ada Sandoval
Content Contributor
Ada Sandoval is a B.S. in Nursing graduate and a registered nurse with a heart for abandoned animals. She works as a content writer who specializes in medical-related articles and pet health.