Can Genetic Testing to Help You Identify and Avoid Chronic Illness? (Part II)

Genetic diseases are triggered by many factors and don’t rely solely on a person’s genetic make-up. Even in the case of identical twins, who share the same gene profile, each individual may have a different health and wellness profile. As medical research is looking to identify which medications work for a particular patient, thereby offering “personalized treatment”, the business of genetic testing is growing.

Genetic testing is sometimes used to determine someone’s predisposition to disease and illness, and is sometimes done when a patient has a close family member who has been affected by a disease. At times, preventative or drastic measures can be performed to reduce the risk of disease. A good example is a woman with a strong family history of breast cancer who has genetic testing to determine her likelihood of developing the disease. Genetic testing results can lead to a decision to undergo a mastectomy for prevention of potential life threatening breast cancer.

How should you go about deciding if genetic testing is right for you?

Before making the decision, ask yourself some questions about why you are considering the testing, and how you might feel about the results.

Will the testing results leave you with more questions or uncertainty?

If you’re looking for a final answer or determination of whether you’ll develop a particular disease, genetic testing won’t always give you the answers you’re looking for. Results may indicate that you have a predisposition (a chance) of developing a disease and scientists may include your test results with the results of other patients (who are of the same age, gender or demographic) to give you a percentage likelihood or risk of developing a disease. Genetic testing isn’t as precise as you might think. As a matter of fact, scientists has not identified all of the genetic markers and components for most diseases. As a result, scientists can’t identify genetic markers that have yet to be discovered.

Genetic testing is in the early stages of identifying an individual’s genetic profile in order to help physicians prescribe the medications that are best matched to treat the individual’s disease. Trending are the terms: “personalized medicine” and “targeted treatment” which refer to designing a treatment plan that is specific not only to the disease, but the individual patient as well. This research also shows promise for determining the underlying causes and potential cure for genetic diseases.

Do you have a family history of disease or illness that concerns you?

Family history is a component of identifying your predisposition for certain diseases. Your risk of developing colon cancer, for example, is higher if you have a close family member with the disease. Testing for colon cancer is relatively easy and uncomplicated. It may be more thorough and appropriate to begin colorectal cancer screening than genetic testing based on the family health history.

Ultimately, it’s important to cultivate a strong relationship with your doctor and talk about your family history, along with your concerns. Together, you can decide if genetic testing is right for you. While genetic testing may not have the answers you’re looking for, there are things you can do today that can influence your wellness and overall health. Lifestyle and ‘taking care of your genes’ can influence the way your genes behave and express themselves. In our next article, you’ll read about how small lifestyle changes can have immediate and dramatic health changes.

Jennifer Davagian Ensign
Inventor of the Sephure applicator

Friends With a Superhero

The date was August 31st 2014. Aaron and I finished playing in an adult summer basketball league with our friends. Though the season was fun and ended very well, Aaron started to complain of pain in his left leg. Not thinking twice about it, Aaron went for a check up with his doctor. The doctor informed him that there was a minor injury in one of his quadriceps muscle and prescribed rest for a few weeks. Upon completion of the recommended rest we returned to sports by playing in a flag football tournament. During the first couple of plays Aaron noticed something still was not right when his leg went numb. Convinced that there was something deeper going on Aaron returned to the doctor to receive a MRI. The results for the MRI revealed plaque on his brain and he was then diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis; a disease his father suffers from as well. The next few months became an uphill battle, having to cope with the idea that life, as he knew it, changed. Going from being one of the most athletic people I know to not being able to complete a jog up the court was more damaging mentally than physically. But just like a Superhero getting up in the fight, he began to face this disease head on. He joined a gym, started a daily exercise program, and still gets out to enjoy some aspect of sports.

In March 2015 I decided to set a goal of completing triathlons. Although I have competed in various sports before, I knew that training for Triathlons would be the ultimate challenge. After I told Aaron my plan he was more excited for this journey than I was. Since that conversation Aaron has taken on a role as a motivational coach. He checks on my schedule, pushes me to work harder and even rides a bike while I was running so I won’t have to do it alone. Because of his commitment to helping me with my journey I decided to dedicate this challenge to Aaron by fundraising with the Multiple Sclerosis Society to help find a cure for this disease. Partnering for this cause has made each and every step towards the finish line count twice. Most of all I hope this journey inspires others the way my friend the Super Hero inspires me.

Personal Stories: Mister Alphabet

Please tell us why you are involved in the MS community? Do you have MS?

My name is Mercedes Curran, I am currently the Communications Manager for Mister Alphabet, and am living with MS. Mister Alphabet™ is a figurine designed to bend into every letter of the alphabet. He was created to bring the alphabet to life through innovative interplay of figuration and letter formation, uniting adults with children and design with education. Based in Los Angeles, Mister Alphabet is proudly made in the USA.

Why are you involved in spreading information about MS on social media platforms?

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis just over a year ago when I lost motor control on half of my body over night. I have been fortunate enough to have a steady recovery and am now thriving while managing my disease. As I have become involved with Mister Alphabet I completely related to the need to have a product that was beautifully designed, inspiring, and a useful tool for children and adults to help create mental and physical connections. We aim to become very involved with the therapy community because we can see how using the tactile and bendable aspects of Mister Alphabet combined with the emotional and therapeutic properties he offers will be an effective tool towards recovery and learning.

What interesting research, tips, recipes, or story can you share with our MS Community?

I was told two things after my major episode that have encourage me and given me hope.

1. Believe in your ability to heal and grow, taking one action at a time. Using my hands and mind (occupational therapy) to connect the Mister Alphabet community to the rest of the word has helped me to continue to be the best version of myself. Continue to pursue your passions to the best of your ability and know you are making a difference.

2. "Nothing is Uninteresting" - with the above statement in mind, I tend to put my personal value in my ability to add to society. The days when I feel less than my best, remembering that every breath, smile, laugh - every small action of kindness are worthy to exist for and within.

http://kck.st/1LQwfub

Personal Stories: David's Goliath

I was diagnosed with MS in 2006 at the age of 47, and as a former bodybuilder and health club owner I chose to take the disease head on through bodybuilding. Since that time I have won Most Inspirational at the Florida State Bodybuilding Championship in 2009 at 50 years old after being told I would be wheelchair bound. I have published a book about my fight against MS called David's Goliath, endorsed by Montel Williams who has MS, and other celebrities and I am currently working on my new fitness book with NY Times best selling literary agent Marilyn Allen.

I am a featured writer for www.everydayhealth.com, reaching approximately 30 million visitors per month with my column MS Fitness Challenge, with many of my articles appearing on AOL.com reaching 250 million visitors. I am working with the AFPA, one of the most well respected certification companies in the fitness industry and have launched the ONLY MS personal trainers' certification that is supported by EMD Serono and EverydayHealth.com. http://store.afpafitness.com/ms-fitness-wellness-specialist-1/

And now at almost 57 years old I just received the first ever Health Advocate Lifetime Achievement Award from Arnold Schwarzenegger! (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/arnold-schwarzenegger-presents-life-time-achievement-award-to-ms-fitness-challenge-founder-david-lyons-300052222.html) and will be receiving the Lifetime Fitness Inspiration Award in Feb 2016 next to bodybuilding legend Robby Robinson. I am considered the face of MS and fitness worldwide.

There is so much happening in my fight against MS, but the most important aspect of this journey is how we are helping others with multiple sclerosis realize that the road to victory is through exercise. We founded the MS Fitness Challenge to change lives and help those with MS have hope, goals and a lifestyle of health & fitness. But we are also reaching the market of people "challenged" with many diseases, disabilities and obstacles to overcome.

We have held successful MSFC events throughout the country providing personal trainers, nutritional supplements and a gym membership FREE of cost to those with MS who participate in our 12 week "Challenge".

I have been on Good Morning LA, FOX News Orlando and other TV and radio shows nationwide as well as in print media, and Bodybuilding.com has released a feature on me and the MSFC:http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/lyons-roar-bodybuilder-battles-multiple-sclerosis.html And I am in the process of signing a fitness book series deal with an international publisher with the foreword written by Daymond John form the hit show Shark Tank and endorsed by Arnold.

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