Genetic Ancestry Testing – Family Health and Genetic Ancestry Testing

Genetic ancestry testing and the role it plays in family health came to the forefront of the national media in November 2006, when then Acting Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu, announced the launching of two outreach family history projects involving Appalachian and Alaskan native communities. The results of the genetic ancestry testing that would be undertaken by volunteers involved in the projects would be used for research in the prevention of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other inherited diseases. This article will look at how your own family's health can benefit from genetic ancestry testing.

Family Medical History and Genetic Ancestry Testing

Many diseases can run in families, and genetic ancestry testing can be used to determine which diseases you may be susceptible do, and consequently enable you to undertake preventative maintenance towards them. It is actually the first step in developing a personalized medical program, enabling your doctor to analyze your individual genetic makeup and devise a specially designed medical strategy for you and your family. The wonders of modern technology have made this form of genetic ancestry testing available to anyone who has a computer and internet access, which you obviously do if you're reading this.

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Genetic Ancestry Testing at My Family Health Portrait

At My Family Health Portrait, a site run by the Office of the Surgeon General, anyone can compile a free Family Health History that can be printed out and taken to a medical practitioner. This type of genetic ancestry testing will enable your doctor to determine if you are at higher risk for any particular disease, and to design a program of prevention if so. Though the program is web-based, any data entered into it stays on your computer; no information is given to the Federal Government, you are guaranteed complete privacy and security of data, and it is available in English and Spanish. If you want to be ensured complete privacy while undergoing this type of genetic ancestry testing, you can download a copy to your computer and fill it in while offline.

Genetic Ancestry Testing and Family History Projects

The Family History projects mentioned earlier in this article were designed to demonstrate how genetic ancestry testing could be used to show how family history information can be applied to disease prevention and promoting good health. The first project worked with rural Appalachian communities, and was designed to introduce the benefits of genetic ancestry testing to populations with low literacy rates. In addition to teaching the general populace about the benefits of genetic ancestry testing, another goal of the projects was to ensure that local doctors were made aware of the important data that family histories could provide to them.

The second project, involving Native Alaskans, had similar aims, but with a specific focus on instructing the native population on the mechanics of genetic ancestry testing. Natives would be given the tools to collect data, and learn how to interpret the results of the genetic ancestry testing that they may undergo.

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It is encouraging to see the government of the United States taking a leading roll in the promotion of the importance of genetic ancestry testing. The value that it offers to our own personal health maintenance and prevention programs are benefits in themselves, but of course, genetic ancestry testing may be used to help us trace our maternal and paternal lineages as well. Who knows, if genetic ancestry testing continues to develop, future generations mat not need to search their ancestors, but simply call them up to invite them over for a cup of tea! Wishful thinking yes, but you never know!

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