Ask the Pharmacist: Medical and Wellness DNA Testing

By Stefanie Black
Pharmacist and Travel Clinic Manager at Thrifty Foods Pharmacy

There are many types of DNA analysis kits now available for consumer purchase. Some focus on ancestry while others focus more on health and wellness. Many pharmacies, clinics and labs now carry DNA testing kits for medication, nutrition and fitness.

The medication DNA test is an analysis that identifies genetic variations that predict the level of enzyme activity. Currently, testing covers many of the main enzymes that metabolize medications. Higher or lower enzyme activity can result in increased or decreased levels of the drug in your body, which can lead to side effects or poor response. Enzyme function can also be affected by other factors such as age, the effect of other drugs, and liver disease. These should be taken into account when considering genetic testing, which is why results should be interpreted by a health care practitioner. Patients who may benefit from medication DNA testing include those who are experiencing side effects to specific medications, not responding to specific medications, requiring doses of specific medications outside the recommended range, planning to start on a new medication covered by the DNA test, or taking multiple medications initiated by different prescribers.

Nutrition DNA testing will show how your genes influence your body weight, how your body stores and processes dietary fats, if you are likely to feel full after eating, which diet is best suited to your body for long term health and wellbeing, and a serving size guide based on your unique genetic results, age and gender. It also tests for cholesterol and triglyceride indicators.

The fitness DNA test is packed with insights including whether your muscles are equipped to work with explosive power or whether you are better suited to endurance sports. It provides your baseline levels of aerobic stamina, your risk of injury and rate of recovery, and whether your genetic type is common among elite athletes. You will receive a comprehensive training program based on your genes, which you can customize based on your goals and current fitness level.

Not all DNA tests are the same; each may test for different genes and therefore provide varied information. This article is based on specific DNA tests that we have at Thrifty Foods Pharmacy. Talk to your pharmacy about whether or not they offer genetic testing and what the tests include. These tests are currently not covered by BC Pharmacare nor private insurance plans, and pricing varies.

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