What Do Your Genes Say about Your Health?

Playing Can Your Genes Unlock Information about Your Health?

DNA home testing kits have become popular with people who are interested in discovering their heritage. Now you can also get information about your health.

The Doctors are joined by genetic counselor Jessica Greenwood, who is also a MyHeritage spokesperson, to explain how this works.

"Taking the test is simple. You first answer a questionnaire about the health history of you and your family and then swab the inside of your cheek," she says. "Send that in and the MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry test then provides health reports that show users their genetic risk of carrying or developing certain medical conditions."

The Doctors note this type of knowledge can potentially empower a person to make better health and lifestyle choices that may affect their future well-being. Also, DNA testing isn't just valuable information for individuals. Families also have many factors in common -- genes, environment, and lifestyle. Together, these factors can give insights into medical conditions that may run in a family. Additionally, this information can also be helpful for people who are adopted and others that may not know their family history.

Dr. Andrew Ordon took the test and his results show he has a slightly decreased risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 

But what happens when a person discovers they carry a genetic trait that puts them at increased risk for a specific condition?

"It is important for anyone taking an at-home DNA test to realize that is a very real possibility and to consider whether this is information they want to know," Jessica tells The Doctors. "At MyHeritage, increased risk results are reviewed by one of our partner physicians to determine whether genetic counseling is recommended. If so, a phone or video consultation with a genetic counselor is included at no additional cost. This ensures that users have the support they need to help interpret their results appropriately."

Dr. Judy Ho took the test and her genes show she has an average risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s and age-related macular degeneration and a significantly decreased risk of developing celiac disease. However, with respect to her risk for breast cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, she was informed that the variants have only been studied in people who are at least 95% European and that until more data becomes available, she cannot be provided accurate risk information.

"Out of the 27 reports we provide, unfortunately, these 3 are based on studies that have included mostly people of Northern European descent. Studies of more diverse ethnic groups are ongoing, and we hope to provide these reports to more users in the near future," Jessica says. "MyHeritage bridges consumers’ past, present, and future. Users can discover their family history, ethnic origins, and relatives through DNA matching and receive genetic insights that can impact their health."

Dr. Ordon discovered he is 49.2% East European, 24.8% North and West European, as well as 18.7% Baltic. Dr. Stork's test revealed he is 59.4% North and West European and 40.6% Scandinavian. 

The Doctors' audience can visit myheritage.com/health for an exclusive discount of 50% when they use the code “DOCTORS” at checkout (Available until October 7, 2019, at 11:59 PM PST).

*Sponsored by MyHeritage