What are genes?
The blueprint of our body
Every person has several trillions of small cells which, together, form the tissues of our body. Each cell has a nucleus, in which there are about 30.000 different genes, controlling a wide variety of properties and mechanisms of our body. There are for example genes that determine the color of our eyes, genes that control what height we reach, genes that are responsible for the digestion of certain food, and genes that are responsible for the function of the nerve cells in our brain. As a whole, the genes form the blueprint of our own individual body.
Unfortunately, our genes are not error-prone, and each of us has certain genetic defects either inherited from our parents, or which have formed by misfortune, and now have a negative effect on our health. These genetic defects may have different consequences: weaken our immune system, increase our risk of heart attack, or give us bad sight. They trigger asthma and allergies, or cause overweight if we have an unregulated diet. Of course, each of us carries other genetic defects, which means that some people have a higher risk of heart attack, while others are, for example lactose intolerant. Diseases that occur frequently in certain families are a good example of the fact that individual risk of illness can be different from family to family, and from person to person.
Increased risk of diseases, due to genetic defects
Genetic defects can affect our health, although in many cases they are not causing a disease, but merely an increased risk of disease. Other external factors (such as environment or our own lifestyle) influence the breaking out of the disease. If a person is, for example, lactose intolerant, due to a genetic defect, this person is perfectly healthy as long as she does not drink milk. Problems appear only in conjunction with certain environmental influences - in this case, eating or drinking products that contain lactose.
It is the same for other diseases as well. For example, if a regulatory gene for iron intake is defective, this can increase the risk of an iron assimilation disease, and preemptive measures are necessary in order to delay the apparition of the disease or even to stop its developments.
Genetic testing for health care
Thanks to the latest technologies, it is now possible to test certain genes for defects, when it is known that they can be associated with diseases. Based on the analysis’ result, we can develop a prevention program that significantly reduces your personal disease risk, and helps you stay healthy.
A healthy lifestyle is, of course, generally preferable, because it can neutralize many genetic predispositions even without additional information about your personal risks. However, genetic testing provides you with additional information, and as such, you will know what you should be particularly careful about, even if these preventative measures do not fall under the general guidelines of a healthy life.