Diabetes Genetic Testing for those 65+
Clear Bridge Biomedics offers at-home diabetes genetic testing for patients 65 and older. When you order this test, we will send the testing kit directly to your doorstep. Simply follow the instructions included in the kit and perform a cheek swab. Then package up your genetic sample and return it by mail to our lab. A team of expert medical scientists will test your sample for the relevant genes and return the results to you and your medical professional as soon as possible.
What is Diabetes Genetic Testing?
Diabetes genetic testing is a way for doctors to examine someone’s genetic makeup to discover the root cause of a family disease. In the case of diabetes, genetic testing determines if someone is predisposed to diabetes in addition to environmental causes. Everything in our body is controlled by little bundles of information called genes. When one of those bundles changes (called a mutation) it can cause diseases to present themselves in a person. Diabetes is not often directly passed from parent to child, but parents do often pass their genetic vulnerability to their children. These children may not ever get diabetes, but they are at increased risk. Because parents can pass their genes down to their children, these genetically linked diseases often can be seen running in families. Diabetes genetic testing identifies any malicious genes related to the development of both type I and type II diabetes.
This test can also help doctors determine who might be most at risk for getting the same genetic disease. Once one member is determined to be carrying a mutated gene, doctors often recommend other closely related members of the family get tested to identify who carries the gene and who will be most affected by it. If someone else shows the gene, the next closest family members will also get tested. Ideally, this cascade continues until the family doctors have a clear view of who does have the possibility of developing the disease, who simply carries the gene but will not likely ever get sick, and who does not possess the mutated gene. This process is called cascade genetic testing.
Is Diabetes Genetic?
Genetic diabetes is simply diabetes that is caused by a mutation in someone’s genes. Many cases of diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, can be genetic and can be passed from parent to child. These cases are not often completely genetically based, needing some environmental component to activate.
Having a mutated gene does not guarantee that someone will develop a genetic disease. Having a mutated gene simply means that someone is much more likely than the average person to develop the condition, in this case, diabetes. There are several reasons someone can develop diabetes. Some reasons are environmental, like someone’s weight or cholesterol levels. Mutated genetics only increases risk for those factors, as well as gives a chance that the person develops diabetes without much environmental prompting. As an example, the average person might have a 10% chance to develop diabetes when experiencing some level of environmental pressure. A person whose genes are mutated might have a 60% chance to cause the person to develop diabetes under the same exact circumstances. In addition, someone with an abnormal genetic makeup might develop diabetes without any environmental factors.
Diabetes Type 1 vs. Type 2
Diabetes is divided roughly into two distinct types. Type 1 diabetics are not able to produce the insulin that breaks down sugars in the body. Type 2 diabetics are insulin resistant. This means that the body was at first generating insulin, but because that insulin could not move all the sugar in their system, the body produced more insulin. Eventually, this increased production caused the pancreas to burn out on insulin production, leading to diabetes.
Scientists are not exactly sure how much of role genes play in the development of diabetes. They only know that diabetes does play a part. There are monogenetic forms of diabetes, which causes diabetes in young adults. Most estimates put the number of purely genetic diabetes cases at 5% of the overall diabetes cases in young people.
Other than monogenetic diabetes, most diabetic genes are passed down in the form of predispositions to diabetes. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can be passed down genetically.
Who should get a Diabetes Genetic Test?
If you suffer from diabetes and are concerned about close family members developing the disease, we recommend you take an at-home diabetes genetic test. This can help determine if you have a predisposition for diabetes that you can pass on to children. Additionally, if you are experiencing symptoms of prediabetes, such as unusual amounts of hunger and thirst, feeling more tired than usual, and have frequent infections, you might consider ordering a genetic test as well.
Diabetes Genetic Testing FAQ
If I test positive, does that mean I have diabetes?
Not necessarily, just that you are at a higher risk for developing diabetes. There can be several reasons someone can develop diabetes. Some reasons are environmental, like someone’s weight or cholesterol levels. Mutated genetics only increases risk for those factors, as well as gives a chance that the person develops diabetes without much environmental prompting. As an example, the average person might have a 10% chance to develop diabetes when experiencing some level of environmental pressure. A person whose genes are mutated might have a 60% chance to cause the person to develop diabetes under the same exact circumstances. In addition, someone with an abnormal genetic makeup might develop diabetes without any environmental factors This is why knowing what your genes say about your body is so important!
Is there any way I can keep from getting diabetes if I have the genetic mutation but no symptoms?
Yes, there often are steps you can take to prevent yourself from getting diabetes. None of these recommendations are guaranteed. If you have the mutation, there is always a chance you simply just develop the disease, but following these steps might lessen the effects and make your body stronger. First, always ask your doctor for information on how to prevent diabetes in your own life. They will have more specific recommendations. Second, often a healthy diet, low on cholesterol and high in nutrients, greatly benefits any patient with diabetes or prediabetes. Third, you might consider light exercise and other heart healthy physical habits to strengthen circulation and overall physical health. This is especially important if you have family with the disease but you do not yet have symptoms.
How do I know what my results are?
You will have your results returned to you when the test is concluded at Clear Bridge Biomedics, but you might not know what to do with them. Most experts recommend contacting a genetic counselor before, during, and after your decision to take a genetic test for several reasons. 1) while there are no inherent physical risks to genetic tests, you may not actually want to know the results. The choice to know is sometimes a difficult one and should be considered thoroughly. 2) Genetic information is very complicated and not easily understood by the average person looking at a results spreadsheet. Genetic counselors help everyday people interpret the results in helpful and relevant ways, leading to informed medical decisions.