Changes in a person’s DNA can offer important clues about medical risks for developing certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and other health conditions. It’s also possible that parents can pass certain disorders onto their children.
As genetic testing for such risks surges in popularity, what do consumers need to know — and who should get tested? DNA plays such a critical role in a person’s health that after accounting for individual behaviors, genetics is the second largest influencer of premature death
“The contribution of genetic changes to health is really grossly underestimated,” says Dr. Robert Nussbaum, Chief Medical Officer of Invitae Corporation.
But while the genetic testing industry has nearly doubled over the last 10 years
“Family history and genetics play an important role in our overall health, including improving health outcomes or preventing possible disease,” says Joanne Armstrong, M.D., MPH, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Women's Health and Genomics for CVS Health. “But the direct-to-consumer genetic testing products available today may provide inaccurate, incomplete or misleading results.”
The good news, says Dr. Nussbaum, is that in-depth genetic testing, paired with appropriate genetic counseling, can provide opportunities for personalized prevention and treatment.