Should People Spend Money On Genetic Testing?

A couple months ago, Angelina Jolie told the world that she decided to undergo a double mastectomy after she took a gene test and tested positive for BRCA1 gene mutation. This mutation would increase her chances of developing breast cancer by 90 percent. Jolie’s story has caused genetic testing to become a very hot topic.

There has been a-lot of research done in the field of genetics within the past couple of decades. Ten years ago, you could take a test and find genetic links for approximately 900 diseases. Today, you can find genetic links for nearly 2,000 diseases. In the past, genetic testing was very expensive. Now, you can do it at home for just $100.

Are The Tests Really Worth Getting?

Angelina Jolie’s story is an example of how genetic testing can potentially help prevent diseases. However, many people are debating whether these tests are really worth it. Before you decide to get a genetic test done yourself, it is important for you to understand the pros and cons. Below are some of the pros and cons for various types of genetic test:

Breast Cancer Testing

Pros: Many women carry the BRAC1 gene. If you test positive for this gene, then you and your doctor will be able to work together and develop a prevention plan. This plan may include frequent and earlier screenings.

Cost: If you test negative for the gene, then you may get a false sense of security. Many factors affect your risk of developing breast cancer. In fact, only five percent of breast cancers are caused by the BRAC1 gene.

Huntington’s disease Testing

Pros: Huntington’s disease symptoms are most likely to develop between the ages of 30 and 50. If you know what the future holds, then you will be able to plan for your family and career. Children of parents with Huntington’s disease have a 50 percent chance of developing the disease themselves. Therefore, people who have this condition may decide that they do not want children.

Cons: Testing positive for a gene mutation for Huntington’s disease does not mean that you will develop the condition. There is no cure for Huntington’s disease, so the test is only offered to adult patients.

Preconception/Prenatal Testing

Pros: Preconception testing will identify your child’s chances of developing a number of conditions, including tay-sachs disease and cystic fibrosis. This knowledge can be very valuable to future parents.

Cons: Preconception and prenatal testing are both very accurate, but they cannot identify all of the possible birth defects. Furthermore, prenatal testing comes with the risk of complications. In rare cases, prenatal testing can cause maternal infection or miscarriage.

Should I Get A Test?

Genetic testing can assess your risk of developing a number of conditions. However, you should find out all that you can about your family’s health history before you opt to get a test.

Derek is currently blogging for GTL DNA, a company that provides home gene tests at an affordable price. He enjoys blogging about recent DNA findings, celebrity paternity test rumors, and other topics related to genetic testing.

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