So many people are getting their genes tested to find out where their “people” come from. You know heritage. I think it’s wonderful as it ties people and cultures together. They truly are advertising on the TV for people to take the test and the ads are cute! Several of my friends have done this test and are amazed at what they find.

I deal with genomic testing which is a fast and upcoming industry. This testing is looking for variants on your genes that can cause diseases. These are not mutations, but hiccups on your genes that can be influenced by diet, lifestyle and supplements. It is so important to choose a testing company that’s a good match for you. So, here are the 5 things to know BEFORE you get tested.

1. Is your Data safe?  Any company using a lab that follows strict clinical lab regulations has to meet high standards for not only handling your specimen and protecting your privacy, but also for what they can do with your data.  Ask f they adhere to CLIA and/or ISO standards, and if the results are intended for clinical use or “entertainment” or research use only.  This is a growing area, and there is a lot we are still learning about genes and health.   Even if your data is stripped of your identifying information, you want to know if and how they will use it.  Will they sell your data to other companies for profit?  Will they use your anonymous data for research and share that knowledge freely with the scientific community for advancement of knowledge for all?

2. Is the information clinically relevant for you?  If you don’t know what to do with the information, it has little value, right?  There are over 20,000 genes now identified thanks to the Human Genome Project, and each gene can have many variations called SNPs (snips) to evaluate.  Most of them we don’t yet know what they do, or how to change the potential impact.  But there are many that we do know a lot about, both in how they can potentially predispose to diseases and how to potentially prevent that disease.  Does the company test genes that we know enough about to use in a clinical setting with real people, or do they include genes still in “research phase”?  Does the report tell you what the potential impact is, and give you clear action steps that can help you and your practitioner know what to do and how to measure the effectiveness of your interventions?

3. Do they test for multiple genes for various health conditions, or only a few?  Up until recently, much of the research was focused on only one or a few genes at a time.  Now we understand the complexity of how genes interact with each other, as well as with the environment.  The more genes you evaluate in a given pathway, and looking at multiple pathways involved in a given condition, the more complete the picture.  It’s like a jigsaw puzzle – if you’re missing a lot of pieces, you are left guessing what the final picture will look like.  This is the “polygenic” model, and where genomics is currently heading.

4. Is the information updated on a regular basis?  Genomic research is exploding at an exponential pace.  We are learning and refining (and sometimes actually changing) our understanding of genes every day.  You will get more value from your testing if the information you get is current.  Do you want a company that updates its reports every 6-12 months or every 5+ years?  Updating these reports based on ongoing research is time-consuming and expensive, and most companies don’t change or update them once they bring them to the market.

5. Do they offer support for you and your practitioner on how to use the information in a way that makes sense for you?  Like any other test, your genomic test results are a tool that in incredibly powerful if you know how to use it.  Since this science is new and rapidly growing, it is hard for many practitioners to keep on top of all the other things they do to help you stay healthy.  They may need some help from seasoned practitioners in order to give you the most benefit.  What kind of support can they get?  Can they talk with a person who has been in the trenches using genomics with their own patients?  It does matter who does the genomic research and application.

That is why I work with the best company doing genomic testing.  They have integrity and are so helpful to practitioners using genomic tests.  I have already seen changes in their reports as they update and improve the reports.  And, you never have to worry about your information being sold or shared with other companies for any reason.  Top rated and top-notched.  Don’t’ be afraid to ask these 5 questions before doing any gene testing.