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Knowing your genetic risk

"I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company. "

 I had this great opportunity to do a genetic test with Futura Genetics to test predispositions to specific conditions genetically. Of course, there are a lot of other factors but it is interesting to know your genetic risk factors as that is a rather embedded risk factor. I have always wanted to do this. My mom had done one once and I have been fascinated since then. Hers by the way showed a genetic risk to breast cancer and she recently just won her battle with breast cancer.

So why did I want to know? Essentially for me it is a knowledge is power sort of deal. I am chronically ill. And I know that this does not prevent me from gaining other illnesses. Quite the contrary it seems to me. Seems like comorbid conditions just spontaneously crop up in bundles.

1) The family history you didn't know: There are some risk factors in my family history I know about. Some I have no idea if they are risk factors for Me. While others may be there and I have no idea. This sort of gives you an idea of the history you are not aware of.

2) Know your risk factors for prevention: Knowing enables you to engage in prevention you might otherwise not have considered. Simply put if you have no idea you are at risk for a certain disease genetically or otherwise, why would you even engage in preventative measures specifically for that condition?

3) Watch out for early signs and symptoms: This is an important one for some diseases. Early signs and symptoms means early management. Just being cognizant of certain potential conditions you are more at risk for means in the future certain symptoms may not slip your notice. Being chronically ill... well I generally do let some symptoms simply slide if I don't rank them as important enough. And some other ones if they are pain related I just simply assume they are related to existing pain conditions. Others I may wait to 'see what happens'. But if I am aware that a condition is a risk factor for me, I will put more emphasis on its importance in regards to mentioning it to my doctor.

4) Informing my doctor: This will be a tool for my doctor to use in regards to my future risk factors.

How it is done:

It was actually a really easy process. They send you a kit with a tube in it. You a saliva sample into that tube up to a line, close the lid and shake. You then go to the site to register and set up a pick up time. It is then picked up. I had some issues with pick-up in Canada so they had me use UPS, but really that worked out fine from here as they had the labels all done for me and I just had to print them out. The biggest issue was the fact my printer was out of ink to print off the labels. As it always is when I need to print something it seems. Nevertheless, off it went. Then you get an email showing the report is available. You log in and your report is downloaded as a pdf.

The report itself goes through a list of conditions and your related risk ratio in a list. Then specifically goes through each one explaining where you are risk wise and even recommendations if you are higher risk. They actually show a page with the genes they researched and your result. And you can even Google this information. Some of it comes up with interesting results to research into if you are interested in that particular gene. For example I was interested specifically in my results for the migraine MTHFR gene and the Alzheimer's APOE genes research wise which actually have a lot of research out on them. However, you don't actually need to explore that information unless there is something you specifically need on there that would be of interest to a specialist to follow up on.

My results I found interesting:

Migraine: Now for the irony of it all. My genetic risk factor for Migraines is 53% which is 1.23 above average. On the results anything above a 1 is over average and something you may want to consider your risk factors for, but this is not my highest. Obviously higher over 1 would be a higher risk factor above average. So this isn't that high. But I Nailed it! For migraines they show MTHFR isn't positive for me which I rather thought it would be to be honest. It is a common migraine with aura gene. It has been researched to have a beneficial response to B12, which means I could have Done something. However, not one of my migraines genes. This is one you can do a lot of research on though.

Alzheimer's Disease : I actually really wanted to know my risk factors for this. You can decline to know. And I understand why. There is a fear of knowing. And I quite get that. It is the fear itself that makes me Want to know. But my grandmother had dementia and I needed to know. Turns out I have the ε3ε4 APOE gene variant so that does in fact increase my risk factors. Essentially to 38% which is 1.9 over average. ε4ε4 APOE would be the highest risk factor, and if you have a 2 in there it buffers you a bit. So mine isn't that great.  What it recommends is to exercise, keep that brain active and learn new things. This is very good to know. I will definitely be doing all I can for prevention in the mental arena and keeping myself up to date on research. When it comes down to it there is only so much a person can do with this particular risk factor, but do what you can I say. And keeping the old brain noodle active is actually the way to live anyway.

Diabetes 2: My father has diabetes. And that is the only risk factor I actually have, but it is a risk factor that increases my chances of getting it. My risk is 90% and 2.85 percent above average due to genetic markers which I assume is hardly surprising considering my father has it. And to be honest my history with having every medical condition my father has has not been awesome. Let's hope I skip this one, shall we. What it does mean, of course, is to ensure I control other potential risk factors I can control in this area.

Breast Cancer: This one I was actually wanting to look at as well. My mother had done a test similar to this and her risk factor was elevated as well. Mine is moderate as well. At 19% and 1.46 above average... for the cancers on this test it is the highest genetic risk factor I have. And with my mother having had it that is a heady consideration. Seeing that tells me I have to ensure I get my mammograms early and regularly. Yay! Do my regular exams as well. The report recommends getting screened after 40 every other year. So soon. Nevertheless I am not sure I have the same risk as my mother had on hers. She has a gene that makes it difficult to process vitamin B, this test did not test for that so I do not know if I share that. However, I do know it is the highest markers for cancer on the list, I do have an immediate family member who has had it and that means it is a pretty valid risk factor for me.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Is one that caught me off guard but only because I had actually been looking this up recently. I have a high ANA count, which is a test for RA. And I have been having issues with joint pain lately in specific new areas common for arthritis. So I looked up the symptoms to see if I should mention it to my doctor. I think it is something to monitor. My above average score on this is high at 2.52 but I consider it to be lower risk nonetheless considering the general population is at 3.6% and I am 9.1%. I also do consider the fact that no one in my family in near recollection actually has this, despite the fact I clearly do carry markers for it. So I do think I will remember it as a risk, but not as a high one.

Glaucoma: I have a really high risk for glaucoma but then my grandmother had this. It was my highest risk factor at 9.82 above average. Doesn't mean I will have it, just that of all the ones listed it is the highest over average.It means I will definitely ensure I get my eyes checked on schedule.

Then extremely low in things I was tested for in my youth like Lupus and MS. Coronary heart disease was low as well. Which actually set my mind at east about these because Lupus and MS are always things that mimic symptoms I already have with FM which makes you think misdiagnosis. But if my risk factors as so very low, my chances are less likely that I have that than having the FM I was actually diagnosed with consider my father has FM. Things like Celiac disease were near nill and I have been tested by that from docs and wasn't positive and generally think this isn't an issue for me. My risk factor for Melanoma  is low at 0.67 below average. And this is simply interesting to me currently in my life because I am waiting for a MRI on my liver due to a mass on there which could be a cyst on Melanoma. However, the environmental factors of taking medications all my life factor in big time there.

I also have a low risk factor for obesity. At .58. So... all on me if I gain weight I suppose since it isn't in the genes. Dangnamit. However, I do have a higher than average risk for Graves and I do actually have hypothyroidism so there actually is weight issue potential there regardless. There is that.

I have to say this absolutely fascinated me. The idea I could do a test and look up all these risk factors like this. I am really fond of prevention. And extremely fond of knowing rather than not knowing. So this sort of thing really, really appeals to me. What I do have to remember, of course, is this is my genetic plate as it were. What I was given before my environment, all my lifestyle decisions, my medications and my actual health issues. All of which put stresses on the body. For example that Coronary heart disease risk factor that is so low genetically (o.61)? I suspect since I have had angina due to medications, arrhythmia problems and smoke... I think my risk factor there might be a tad higher.
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