The study of genetics has come a long way – there are DNA tests which can be ordered online just as you order your groceries, as simple as that. Why should you get a DNA test – to be on the safer side. You can take the proper precautions to avoid a genetic disease, if you know you are at risk. Also, people who want to have children can test for any serious genetic disease they may be passing on to them. Knowing the diseases you pass down as genetic traits will help your family and you tweak your diet and lifestyle as precautionary measures.
First, let’s see what exactly is genetic disease?
Any disease which is caused by any sort of abnormality in a person’s genetic make-up is defined as genetic disease. The abnormality can be minor or major. Some genetic diseases are inherited from parents and others are caused by changes/mutations in a gene or a group of genes. Mutations can happen randomly or due to environmental exposure. So if you know the hereditary health conditions, you can protect yourself from mutations as best you can.
6 Diseases you pass down as genetic traits
1. Heart disease
As far as we knew, previously, heart disease was caused by lifestyle irregularities. The CDC used to advise people to stop smoking, maintaining the desired BMI, eating less red meat, avoiding saturated fats and exercising regularly. We used to think that living a healthy life would keep us safe from heart disease.
We were right to think that, and in a 2016 landmark study, in which 55,000 people took part, indicated that people who had increased chances of developing heart disease due to genetic reasons, could reduce the risk by 50%. If people who had the markers which led to Coronary Artery Disease, they could start living healthy to avoid heart disease.
Thus, heart disease is one of the diseases you pass down as genetic traits which can be controlled or avoided if you know that your genes have the DNA markers for it.
2. High Cholesterol
Having a high cholesterol leads to heart attacks, which can strike at a young age. You might have heard or come across cases where many people in the same family have heart attacks. This could be because high cholesterol is also a genetic disease in some people. They have FH (Familial Hypercholesterolmia) and as a result, their LDL or the bad cholesterol levels are elevated from birth.
Thus, if your DNA test reveals FH, then it means you might pass down ‘High Cholesterol’ as one of the diseases you pass down as genetic traits. You can get DNA test done for your children too, and if they have the FH marker, then your entire family can take the necessary precautions as well as medications and perhaps extend your life.
3. Celiac disease
Celiac disease is one of the rare disorders which can be passed down genetically. Gluten allergy is well-known now, and many people experience digestive issues temporarily. But those have Celiac disease, undergo serious complication in their small intestine.
If you have the markers for Celiac disease, then it is one of the diseases you pass down as genetic traits. It has been seen that people with a sibling, child or parent who has Celiac have 1 in 10 chance of getting Celiac too. If you have a relative with Celiac, and have one or more than one gene, as well as the symptoms of Celiac, such as inexplicable weight loss and abdominal pain, then you should get yourself tested for Celiac and get a doctor’s advice.
Hereditary health conditions are not confined to physical diseases, but researchers have found that even some mental conditions such as depression may have hereditary roots. Everyone has the blues and feels depressed at some point in their lives. But when it becomes chronic or manic, then it has to be medically treated. If two/more than two people on same side of the family is affected, then you might develop depression too. But the bright side of DNA testing is that, some of these tests can help to find out the drugs you will respond to best.
Almost one third of human population suffer from insomnia and 1 in 10 people meet the criteria for clinical sleeplessness. Insomniacs work and health suffer a great deal. According to the findings of two studies, insomnia is a disorder which can be inherited from parents. The exact genetic markers have not been discovered as yet, but probably will be soon.
6. Adenomatous polyps
If you know of anyone in your family who has these polyps, then you may be at risk for colorectal cancer. These polyps may develop in the teens, but become cancerous in late thirties. You have to get screened for colorectal cancer if there is someone in the family who has colon polyps or colorectal cancer.
Genetic testing can point to the diseases that you can pass down to your children, which could be life-saving for many people.