As technology continues to advance at faster rates each year, medical practices are pushed into new and life-changing directions. Genetic testing is one of the greatest medical achievements in history. The ability to map the genetic structure of a human being opens the door for a new age of preventative care. With genetic testing, we can now predict what types of chronic illnesses we are most likely to develop as we age. Through this, we can begin to defend ourselves in ways that were never possible in recent history.
The actual defense strategy can be as simple as a diet change, but even this type of minor change may have never occurred to the patient if they were left unaware of the danger they were in. With all the diseases in the world, it is impossible for anyone to prepare themselves against them all. However, genetic testing now helps patients to narrow their efforts to their specific risks.
The Benefit Of Personalized Medicine
The most important benefit of genetic testing is personalized medicine. Since the dawn of medicine, human beings have been guinea pigs for their own medical experiments. Doctors have had to generalize their prescriptions because there is no way to get inside a patient’s head and truly understand what they need. However, genetic testing comes pretty close. Now that your doctor is able to fully understand how your body functions, you will receive specialized medicine with optimal results.
Early Detection And Better Preventative Care
Another huge benefit includes fewer unnecessary check-ups. Rather than being told that you might be at risk for cancer, which leads to hypochondria and stress, you will actually know. As bad as it may be to find out that you are definitely at risk for cancer, there is also no better way to treat it. Everyone can agree that early detection and treatment produces the best results.
Despite the benefits of such a keen diagnosis, it is hard to understand exactly what the psychological effects may be for those with incurable illnesses.
The Risks Of Genetic Testing
Despite all the amazing possibilities that come with genetic testing, there are still many potential risks involved with the process. For instance, prenatal testing is still very dangerous. A tissue sample must be taken from near the fetus. The risk is minor, but there is still the chance that a prenatal genetic test can lead to a miscarriage. Further technological advancements will likely eliminate this risk, but until then, mothers must be well-informed before deciding on a prenatal gene test.
The Psychological Effects Of Gene Mapping
The other major risk involved with genetic testing is actually psychological. There is much debate over how people will deal with their results. If your test shows that you are at a high risk of some incurable and fatal disease, then how might that change your view of the world? This risk is very real and cannot be tossed aside. It also puts much strain on the doctor performing the test. In some cases, who is to say that the doctor does not choose to withhold information if the situation seems hopeless?
Whatever conclusions we reach about the morality of genetic testing, it is impossible to deny how powerful a tool it actually is. It is unlikely that genetic testing will stop, because many people are too curious about where this technology will lead the human race. Genetic testing is just one phase in a major technological transformation that will improve our health and perhaps our well-being.
Photo by: Lab Science Careers
Derek is blogging for GTL DNA, a genetic testing company that provides home testing DNA kits and other genetic related tests. When Derek is not working, he enjoys relaxing with his girlfriend and catching up on their favorite TV shows.