We inherit many our illnesses are inherited from our ancestors. Yes, Grandma may have left you a silver teapot along with and a bad case of high blood pressure. Almost a third of all known diseases have genetic links. These include colon cancer, heart disease, alcoholism and high blood pressure.
A medical genealogy or medical family tree can reveal patterns. If you have have created a medical genealogy and found that a medical condition or disease seems to run in your family, you might want to consider genetic testing. This form of testing can help you plan.
DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is in the genes you get from your parents. DNA guides the cells in your body. If your DNA contains a mutation, you could develop a medical condition.
A test can reveal mutations that raise the risk of developing a disease. Positive results for certain diseases can induce people to take preventive action, such as surgical removal of endangered organs.
Keep in mind these are NOT the same tests conducted by the DNA companies that service the genealogy community. The genealogy DNA companies only look at a few specific DNA "markers" that prove identity; they show whether or not you are a descendant from a particular individual. The medical genetic testing looks at those same markers plus a lot more.
About 900 genetic tests are now offered by diagnostic laboratories. The prices vary widely: less than $100 to a few thousand dollars. Your health insurance probably will not cover testing.
Genetic testing is not perfect. It does not provide definitive proof of hardly any medical condition, especially not of future medical issues. A positive result for a particular mutation does not mean you will get a disease. It simply indicates that you have a higher PROBABILITY for a particular medical problem. Likewise, a negative result does not guarantee immunity from a particular disease.
Genetic testing is a subject to discuss first with your personal physician. He or she may refer you to a medical-genetics specialist, who is trained to interpret the results of tests.
To find genetics professionals in your area, start at the National Society of Genetic Counselors at www.nsgc.org or the GeneClinics at www.geneclinics.org or the American Society of Human Genetics at www.faseb.org/.