How to be tested for disease risks

How to be tested for disease risks

A simple saliva test can help you understand your disease risk.

There are many things that can kill you in this world and it’s impossible to avoid them all, at all times. Some people are at a greater risk of developing certain diseases like cancer, for example. Knowing what you are predisposed to face later in life can help you live longer, in some cases. 

Of course, some people bask in the idea that innocence is bliss and they would rather not know what they are more likely to die from and what they aren’t. Life is to be lived and whatever fate brings is not to be altered. You may find you wish to take a proactive approach, however. In some cases, earlier screening for diseases such as breast cancer can help detect it and catch it if you have developed it, allowing you to treat the illness and live on longer. 

In other cases dietary adjustments and lifestyle changes can help you create a better protective barrier when it comes to preventive health, that can add years to your life. For example, the actor Chris Helmsworth, known for his starring role as Marvel’s Thor, recently discovered he has a greatly heightened risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, Helmsworth has decided to take a break from acting in order to get more sleep, manage his stress, and maintain an overall healthier lifestyle while spending more time with his family now, while he feels he can, just in case. 

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How can you discover which diseases you’re more prone to develop? Here’s a look. 

The story your genetics tells

Your genetics reveal a lot about you and it’s possible to undergo a screening test for certain diseases. These tests are done on healthy people who have no symptoms of illness in order to provide guidance on lifestyle changes that could be beneficial to undertake. These are not diagnostic tests but they can reveal disease risks. It’s also good to remember that not all screening tests are 100% accurate, so it’s a good idea to take your results with a grain of salt. 

Common screening tests you may have already heard of or participated in include:

  • PAP test
  • Prostate specific antigen test
  • Fecal occult blood test
  • Cholesterol test

You can also obtain genetic testing to find out if you’ve inherited a susceptibility to develop cancer. Some cancers run in families and knowledge can be power. 

Genetic testing can also be done to assess your Alzheimer’s risk. Companies like 23andMe offer genetic health risk reports, carrier status reports, and ancestry traits analysis, among other services. You can easily order some of these tests online and submit a sample of your saliva to the company’s DNA lab. This is then analyzed and the results are sent to you. Talk to your doctor if you have specific worries and concerns about your health and you wish to learn which disease risk tests could be best for you. 

Knowing your predisposition to sickness can help improve the quality of your life and increase your lifespan. This knowledge can also be stressful to have if you discover certain information you may not have expected and so it’s wise to have conversations with your doctor and your support network of family and friends when embarking on the journey of discovery.

photo credits: Shotmedia/

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