Understanding your cancer and disease risk is important to help motivate you to live a healthier lifestyle. You probably know that smoking increases your chances of developing lung cancer or emphysema. Obesity will predispose you to diabetes and heart disease. A family history of cancer might mean that it’s in your DNA to have a higher risk of cancer. Even someone who is very healthy and has no family history of cancer or disease can still get cancer or disease. Nobody can say they have zero risk of getting cancer or disease.
The question is, how do you know which diseases and health risks apply to you? Thankfully, you can get a DNA test to find out if there are any diseases or specific types of cancer you’re at risk of developing due to your genetics. Though finding out this information can sometimes be uncomfortable and scary, understanding the health risks you may be genetically prone to can help you avoid future complications and take preventative measures. This information will also help you watch for symptoms, so you don’t miss any signs or symptoms of cancer.
Remember, knowledge is power. When you’re armed with the right information, you can make educated decisions that will help you to survive and thrive in life. Understanding your risk of cancer and disease can also help you feel confident about the lifestyle choices you make. Below is a closer look at the benefits of knowing your cancer and disease risk:
Take Control of Your Life and Look Forward to Better Outcomes
Wouldn’t you prefer to know your risks so that you could take preventative measures? Sadly, some people still adopt a devil-may-care attitude. They believe ignorance is bliss because finding out their predisposition towards cancer and other diseases will make them more anxious. These people prefer to live by the adage: what you don’t know won’t hurt you.
This aversion to information is called the “ostrich effect,” coming from the habits of ostriches to bury their heads in the sand when there is danger. You may have heard the expression, Don’t keep your head in the sand, do something about it!
Keep in mind that missing symptoms and not being aware of your genetic risk factor can result in a late diagnosis, impacting your chances of survival. In addition, when you find out about complex illnesses at a later stage, the treatments will be more dangerous, uncomfortable, complex, invasive, and expensive. Thus, it is better to take a proactive approach, especially if you have certain diseases that run in your family.
Often, families have the same genetic background, follow the same lifestyle, and live in similar environments. For this reason, many relatives have a similar pattern of disorders, making future generations at risk for developing the same conditions. Examples of these are:
- Heart disease
- Certain types of cancer
Remember, living in uncertainty will cause even more anxiety and affect your life. Agonizing over the what-ifs and possibilities will result in restlessness, insomnia, muscle tension, and fatigue. As a result, you will hurt your immune system and make yourself even more susceptible to infectious diseases. Refusing to know is a form of denial, which is a major disservice because you force yourself to believe you are fine, yet deep down, you are not okay. Taking a screening test will give you more control over your life.
Make Courageous Decisions Grounded on Facts, Not Fears
Some people avoid finding out their cancer and disease risk, because they want to live a carefree life and not deal with any stress at the moment. However, this comes at the cost of their own health because certain conditions like cancer can prove fatal when not detected early.
Understanding your potential health risks will significantly influence your healthcare decisions. Knowing the likelihood of certain cancer or disease affecting your health will allow you to make smart choices grounded on facts and not fears. Knowing the potential harms and benefits will allow you to evaluate your lifestyle and make necessary changes if you need to.
Besides, a health risk does not necessarily mean you will develop that disease. It only speaks about the possibility or chances of it occurring. Instead of getting intimidated, knowing what to expect means you can actively minimize risk factors. Though you cannot alter risk factors like your family history, age, gender, or ethnicity, you have control over other aspects such as your nutrition, habits, physical activity, and the like.
Figure Out What Foods to Eat and Take the Right Supplements
When you take a proactive approach towards genetic testing, you can make better choices to ensure your body gets the right nutrients. After all, the foundation of your overall health begins with what you put in your mouth. The food you eat is broken down to fuel your cells, so eating the right food like those rich in antioxidants is key to prevent the onset of many illnesses.
On top of that, you can take the best supplements that fit your profile so you can fill in nutrition gaps. For example, suppose your test reveals a strong likelihood that you will develop osteoporosis (loss of bone density) later in life. In that case, you can be more mindful of your daily calcium intake. So, apart from eating and drinking calcium-rich food or beverages, you can also take a calcium supplement. This will fortify your bones and prevent fractures as you age.
Similarly, if you have a strong predisposition towards heart disease, you can tweak your diet by minimizing salt and animal fat intake. At the same time, you can eat more fibre to lower bad cholesterol while actively consuming healthy fats that increase your good cholesterol, like fish oils, certain nuts, and avocado. Taking a magnesium supplement may also help because studies say that low magnesium levels are linked with cardiovascular issues like hypertension, hardening of arteries, calcification in soft tissues, and arterial plaque build-up.
Make Conscious Lifestyle Changes to Keep Diseases at Bay
When you know your family history and read the results of your genetic screening, you can do your part in mitigating potential triggers. You can make significant lifestyle changes to prevent the onset of diseases. Apart from adopting a healthier diet, you can incorporate regular exercise into the mix to strengthen your whole body.
Working out ensures you maintain a good weight, strengthen bones, and develop lean muscle mass. You may also be inspired to quit bad habits like smoking and drinking, which will help lower your chances of developing certain cancers, heart disease, kidney problems, and liver issues.
Besides, finding out for sure what cancers and diseases you are prone to can help you stay more vigilant with your habits. To illustrate, if your testing results show you are prone to melanoma or skin cancer, you can be more vigilant in putting on SPF, wearing hats, and avoiding tanning beds.
Implement Family Planning and Pre-Implantation Testing
DNA screening is helpful before starting your own family, especially if you have a strong family history of genetic disorders like Huntington’s disease, sickle cell anaemia, or cystic fibrosis. Similarly, if your ethnicity is at high risk for specific gene health concerns, you can take a test before having children. A carrier screening exam can detect gene mutations and identify if you or your partner will be carriers for those diseases.
If you find out you have a high risk for passing on these life-threatening conditions to your off-springs, you can take it a step further by doing the pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. This is helpful for in vitro fertilization treatments as your embryos will be screened for genetic abnormalities before they are implanted in your uterus.
Plan Out Major Financial Decisions Ahead of Time
If you know what to expect, you can plan out major financial decisions early, like buying more health insurance and life insurance coverage. You may even decide to save for the costs of a care facility in case you need it. Though this is a tough topic to handle, staying prepared is the best safety net of all. In addition, having a proper plan in place will make you feel more secure because you and your family will know what to do in case something happens.
Unfortunately, not everyone is insurable. The best time to get more insurance coverage is when you are still fit and healthy. At the onset of critical illness, insurance companies can decline coverage because you are now a liability. When you are armed with the right information on your health, you can buy sufficient medical coverage. At the same time, you can also increase your life insurance protection to safeguard your family’s interests in case something happens.
Stay Proactive in Conducting Clinical Screenings
Health care professionals advocate for more frequent checks and testing for people with a strong family history of certain conditions. After you find out your risk for centre cancers or diseases, you can request more frequent clinical screenings. For example, you can get annual mammography for breast cancer and colonoscopies for colorectal cancer.
On top of that, you can open discussions with your physician and ask important questions. Though it can feel daunting to ask these types of health questions, it can help you make educated health decisions.
Remember that if you know your genetic risk factors and family history of cancer and disease, you can take preventative measures and keep watch for specific symptoms.
When you have reliable health information at your disposal, you can take the necessary steps to prevent illness. Thus, it is always good to know test results because they will indicate what conditions are more likely to harm you. When you stay vigilant with preventive screenings, you will have more control over your well-being, overall health, and longevity. With genetic testing like Circle DNA, you can gain clarity and reap the benefits of the power that comes with such knowledge.