Genetic Journey: Health Risks

When I submitted my DNA to 23andMe, one of the important aspects of the results I expected was an examination of how my genetic makeup might impact my health. It was honestly a bit intimidating to start looking at the likelihood of being afflicted with some terrible illnesses I might be genetically predisposed to fall prey to.

From what I can tell from the results, I have average or blow average risks for most serious illnesses and not a greatly increased for most of those I have a genetic predisposition toward. The results don’t take into account lifestyle, but I feel mostly confident I’m on the right track for most of my habits.

The biggest risk that the findings exposed for me is that I have a 27% chance of someday having prostate cancer, compared to the average of 18%. I also have an elevated risk of colorectal cancer of 8% up from 6% on average. I’m twice as likely genetically to have rheumatoid arthritis than the average and a few other diseases I have either a smaller chance of having or the genetic link is not well proven.

While I did have apprehension about learning these results, but I’m glad I have them now. I’ll be able to have more frequent tests done for the cancers, for instance, and that may well save or extend my life someday. Knowing even these bits of preliminary findings can allow me to look at lifestyle changes as well. There are dietary and other environmental factors I’ll want to explore to ensure I live a long and healthy life, and these indicators can help motivate important changes for me.

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