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The Rise of Personal Genomics

If you could find out reliable details about your past, present and future without consulting someone with a crystal ball, would you do it? If information on your family heritage, current health and future risk factors interests you, personal genomics might be right up your alley. This biomedical revolution has been changing the way people think about their health lately.

Find out how it works, what it costs and how you can get sequenced.

The basics

Your genome is essentially a blueprint of your DNA, full of information about your family history, health, traits and future risks for disease. It can even tell you what your kids might look like or how you'll age. Personal genomics involves using a sample of your blood or saliva to map your genetic code and clue you in to certain markers that might affect your health.

The costs

Depending on how in-depth you want your blueprint to be, getting sequenced can cost anywhere from $99 to $10,000. The cheapest options are not as expensive as other types of sequencing because they only detect some general markers, like drug sensitivities, disease risks and traits.

The effects of getting sequenced

People choose to work with personal genomics companies for a variety of reasons. Some use these tests to get details about their family trees, while others use the information to help them make decisions about reproducing, discover risks for certain diseases or many other reasons. Whatever questions you have about yourself, chances are getting sequenced can provide you with some valuable insight.

One emerging desire is to use the technology to encourage preventive medicine. Some tests will tell you which diseases you're at risk for. Then you may choose to alter your lifestyle or take other preventive measures to try to produce a change. It's not a foolproof plan—mostly because we don't know how some genes and lifestyles factor in to certain conditions. Nonetheless, adopting healthy habits can only be a positive step toward improving your overall wellness.

Personal genomics has a lot of potential for changing the way health care works. It can help individuals be more active about their health and assist health care professionals in making diagnoses and implementing treatments. It can provide large databases for studies. It may someday even allow parents to choose which traits they want in their offspring. However, the use of genomics to engineer traits in children remains highly controversial among medical professionals and others.

Regardless of how you feel about it now, there's no denying that personal genomics will likely play a big role in coming years.

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