How long will I live? It’s a question some people are afraid to have answered. But genomic testing gives you more than just an accurate idea of your lifespan. You can explore your DNA to find out what health risks you face, and take action.
Genomic testing can be useful for a variety of reasons – you can learn more about your current state of health, exercise, and dietary requirements, or give your family planning the best possible start by identifying any hereditary issues you might face.
What Is Genomics?
The genome is the entire set of DNA instructions required to ‘build’ a specific individual organism. Whereas genetic testing looks at specific genes to identify any mutations or aberrations, genomic testing is a much more sophisticated and comprehensive process.
Genomic testing allows us to analyse how different genes interact – even though an individual gene may be healthy, different combinations of genes can create sub-optimal health conditions, so learning about the genome as a whole allows us to predict and understand a much greater range of health factors.
From a patient’s perspective, genomic testing is very simple – only a saliva swab is required, followed by a meeting with our consultant, Dr Sohère Roked, to discuss the findings in depth, along with any lifestyle changes that may be required based on your genetic information.
We’ll often recommend a follow-on appointment three months later to check on your progress and make any adjustments needed to your plan.
What Risks Can Be Identified With Genomic Testing?
Genomic testing for cancer. Whilst cancers aren’t usually hereditary, some types of cancer are strongly influenced by variations in specific genes, and interactions between these genes and others. Using genomic testing, we can assess the risk of the following cancers;
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Colon cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Stomach cancer
Genomic testing for heart disease.
Some cardiovascular diseases may be inherited, including cardiomyopathies, arrhythmic disorders, aneurysms and certain types of lipid disorders. Genomic testing can help detect and plan for these genetic disadvantages, allowing you to adjust your diet accordingly and seek preventative medicine where appropriate.
When using genomic testing to identify health risks, it’s important to recognise that results cannot predict if or when a highlighted condition might develop (or how severe it might be).
Genomic testing for exercise, dietary, and pharmacological requirements
Proper exercise and nutrition are essential for a long, healthy life. Genomic testing can provide insights into your specific workout and dietary needs, to help you work in accordance with your own genetic predisposition. This will allow you to get the maximum benefit from your workouts, with a reduced risk of resulting injury.
Genomic testing can also provide useful guidance for your use of medication. Professor Mark Caulfield of the British Pharmacological Society points out that;
“99.5% of us have at least one change in our genome that, if we come across the wrong medicine, it will either not work or it will actually cause harm.”
For example, more than five million people in the UK get no pain relief from codeine, due to their genetic code.