The Hottest DNA/Ancestry Gift No One Is Talking About

Many people may be overlooking a life-improving gift that is absolutely free and might bring your family into an interesting conversation. The gift: sharing your health history and asking your family members to do the same.

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The Hottest DNA/Ancestry Gift No One Is Talking About
4 Min Read May 16th, 2023

Gathered around the table before dinner, many families observe the tradition of sharing what they are most thankful for, and a third of those say they're most grateful for their health. When it comes time to exchange gifts, whether for birthdays or holidays, some of us may consider giving a genetic test kit as a personalized approach to knowing more about ourselves.

With health and genetic ancestry top of mind for so many, we may be overlooking a life-improving gift that is absolutely free and might bring your family into an interesting conversation. That gift is simple: sharing your health history and asking your family members about their health history may help in knowing the appropriate preventive tests you should consider discussing with your doctor. 

Most diseases have a genetic component. Knowing the health history of your family members gives you vital information for practicing appropriate preventive care that can improve or even save lives. You can start the conversation, but you should first prepare for the conversation.

Diseases Associated with Genetics

Think about diseases known to be top health hazards, such as diabetes and heart disease. Then consider those diseases that may be associated with genetics but that we may not always believe to be associated with genetics. Here are some examples:  

  • Lung Cancer: Smokers are at the highest risk for lung cancer, but non-smokers are increasingly being diagnosed with lung cancer, sometimes due to genetics. A family history of lung cancer highly increases one's chance of also being diagnosed with lung cancer
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): The often-inherited Alpha-1 deficiency can cause COPD. The Alpha-1 protein protects the lungs, and its deficiency can cause COPD. There are available resources with information about getting screened if you have a family history of Alpha-1 deficiency. 
  • Bladder cancer: Epidemiological studies have shown a twofold increased risk of bladder cancer among first-degree relatives (parent, sibling, child) of bladder cancer patients. A large population-based twin study estimated a genetic heritability of 31% for bladder cancer.
  • Colon cancer: About 1 in 3 people who have colon cancer have a family health history of the disease. Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers through screening and can be easily treatable through early detection.
  • Pancreatic cancer: Approximately 5-10% of pancreatic cancer cases are hereditary. People with two or more first-degree relatives with pancreatic cancer or a first-degree relative who developed pancreatic cancer before the age of 50 have an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer themselves.

Non-Fatal Diseases Can Have Genetic Component  

Even diseases that are not deadly can have a genetic component. Talking about a family struggle with a disease can inspire sufferers to pursue the treatment they may have been putting off. Uterine or ovarian fibroids are a good example. If a woman's mother had fibroids, her risk of having them is about three times higher than the average woman's risk of having fibroids. Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate, has been shown to be inherited. A study of men younger than 65 with very enlarged prostate showed that male relatives were four times more likely than other men to need BPH surgery at some point in their lives. For patients without a single-gene cause of kidney stones, the heritability of kidney stone disease is great than 45%.

As James Casey, health activist, and accomplished musician, recently said at an AtlanticLIVE conference focusing on health, he never knew about cancer in his family that could have been prevented with screenings because no one was talking about the issue. Casey works closely with the Colon Cancer Alliance to raise awareness through their # TheyDidn'tSay campaign focused on the issue of openness about sensitive topics, among friends, among family members, and among us all. 

Screening Saves Lives

Finally, we should all bring the conversation around to the important role preventive screenings have played in improving the health of aging populations. The CDC reminds us that knowing is only half the battle. If you have a family history, you should act on it. 

Be brave and encourage others to get screened as appropriate. Be brave and ask your own doctor about scheduling those relevant screens for yourself. When you're sitting around the table with friends and loved ones, share information about your health history that might help you and those you love. The conversation is a gift in itself, and it could be a gift that is lifesaving. 

(Dr. Pracyk's comments are not to be construed as direct medical advice but are meant in the spirit of stimulating discussion.)

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About the Author

John Pracyk is the Chief Medical Safety Officer of Olympus, a global technology leader in designing and delivering innovative solutions for medical and surgical procedures.

LTC News Contributor John Pracyk

John Pracyk

Contributor since May 16th, 2023

Editor's Note

Family history plays an important role in long-term care. It is important to have a good understanding of the family's health history. This can help to prepare a long-term care plan, identifying any potential risks or vulnerabilities that could arise down the line. Knowing the risks and issues of a family's history can help to create a more tailored and comprehensive plan for long-term care.

Your family history can also provide an important understanding of any illnesses that have been passed down through the family. This can give health care providers valuable information on conditions that may affect an individual in the future and provide more insight into the potential treatments or preventive measures that may be needed. Knowing that an individual is predisposed to a certain illness or disease can help to guide decision-making in regard to long-term care plans.

Knowing the types of illnesses and diseases that are present in a family's history can help to create a more comprehensive plan.

However, family history is not the only reason people need long-term health care. Longevity has come with medical advances. The previous generations may not have lived long enough for some things to develop. Medical treatment that would allow someone to survive today often was not available decades ago.

Being prepared for longevity is vital to your retirement plan. Consider adding a Long-Term Care Insurance policy to your retirement plan. You will safeguard your 401(k) and other savings from the increasing cost of long-term care health.

Most people obtain coverage in their 50s. Seek help from a qualified specialist to help in your planning.

LTC Insurance Specialist Can Benefit You

A Long-Term Care Insurance specialist can be beneficial by providing the knowledge and experience necessary to help you select the best policy to meet your needs. 

Specialists can help to explain the different types of coverage, assess your needs based on your current health, financial resources, and family members, and evaluate potential policy options to determine the best fit for a consumer's budget and needs. 

These experts in long-term health care planning can also assist you in understanding the tax benefits of Long-Term Care Insurance and how it fits into retirement planning. You can save time and money by using a specialist's assistance to assess various policies' prospective costs and coverage. Premiums vary dramatically between insurance companies, as do their underwriting rules.

A qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will match you with the best company to save you money. A specialist will put together accurate quotes from all the top companies based on your age, health, family history, and other factors.

Resources on LTC NEWS

LTC NEWS offers news, guidance, and resources to assist you in long-term health care planning. Additionally, LTC NEWS provides reviews of various Long-Term Care Insurance plans. 

Here are some of the resources that are available on LTC NEWS:

Parent’s Health Declining? Do They Need Care Now?

Get quality care for your parent or parents if they require it. LTC NEWS can assist. We've put together a few comprehensive guides to help you along the way.

Find help locating quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim.

Make sure your loved one uses their Long-Term Care Insurance if they are fortunate enough to have it. Families sometimes postpone taking advantage of the benefits thinking family members can provide care, saving the benefits for later when it is deemed "more necessary."

Delaying the use of available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a good idea. The policy provides you with access to quality care when someone needs it. It also gives loved one’s time to family instead of caregivers.

These four guides can be very helpful as you try to find appropriate long-term care services for a loved one:

Today's Reverse Mortgages Can Benefit Older Families

Some people have a large portion of their savings in their homes. With the help of reverse mortgages, you can find ways to pay for quality in-home care, pay for LTC Insurance, and even assist with cash flow during retirement.

Yes, today's reverse mortgages may be the perfect way to pay for a Long-Term Care Insurance policy or even cover the cost of in-home care if you or a loved one is currently in need.

Asking an expert with your questions will help you learn more. Mike Banner, a columnist for LTC NEWS and the host of the television program "62 Who Knew," will respond to your inquiries about long-term care, reverse mortgages, aging, and health.

- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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You can promote yourself, your business, and your website or blog. It can include links to other sites, and you can share the article link once 

published on your website or social media. However, it must have editorial content exclusive to LTC NEWS and not just an advertisement.

Email your story idea or article: - LTC News Contributors | LTC News

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LTC NEWS can help you drive traffic to your website and attract people who are interested in your products and services. Furthermore, you can also improve the SEO of your website so your site shows higher on the search engines. The goal is to get more customers that can find you when they search for your products and services.

There are various marketing options available with LTC NEWS. Traditional advertising, sponsored content articles, strategic alliances, and more are available. 

Learn more about how LTC NEWS can help market your business, drive traffic, and improve SEO - Advertise With Us | LTC News.

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