Our individuality is based on our genetic variety. The complete genetic information possessed by an organism is referred to as the genome. In humans up to 99.9% of the genome is identical. The remaining fraction of 0.1% is responsible for the inherited variety within humankind. The identification of genetic variants (polymorphisms) in the human genome has become increasingly clinically significant in the past decade.
Polymorphisms do not tell us whether or not we are going to develop a particular disease, but they do indicate the presence of risk or preventive factors. We do not inherit a disease state as such, but rather we inherit a set of susceptibility factors to environmental influences that modify the risk of developing a disease.
These factors include cigarette smoke and air pollution, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, sun exposure, bacterial infection, chronic nutrients to efficiencies, hormone imbalances, lifestyle habits and toxic exposure. The vast majority of genetic polymorphisms only have the potential to cause health problems if we are exposed to the wrong "mix" of harmful agents over time.
Preventative genetic diagnostic testing focuses on individual risk profiles, in combination with traditional risk factors and the familial medical history. This helps to explain why are individuals are affected differently by the same environmental factors. The knowledge of genetic factors makes preventative medicine easier in that for example, if the polymorphism result indicates an increased risk for developing prostate cancer, the patient needs regular screening and a nutritional optimization plan.
This inherited genetic aspect of the individual risk for certain diseases can be refined by selecting the genetic diagnostic test that is most appropriate. And most importantly, it helps the practitioner to determine a suitable treatment plan tailored to the patient's individual genetic needs.