Making the most of epigenetics

The power of epigenetic testing

DNA testing will tell you your lifetime risk of diseases or characteristics you have. Typical blood tests tell you what is happening in your body’s functionality at one point in time. Neither are particularly great at getting ahead of disease in an actionable way.

With epigenetics you can measure your risk of disease and the contribution of your lifestyle and environment. Perfect! You can do something about it and epigenetics tells you how. You can then measure the same things a few months to a year later and measure your progress to healthy, before disease strikes.

Example 1: Metabolic disease

When considering their metabolic status, people most often look to BMI. But some people are thin-outside-fat-inside and so BMI can be misleading as the real killer is the visceral fat surrounding your organs, not necessarily your love handles.

An unhealthy lifestyle can lead to metabolic syndrome: a combination of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes leading to increased risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. While measuring your cholesterol and blood pressure will tell you if you have it or not, epigenetics can get ahead of metabolic disease by predicting your risk.

Epigenetics is able to draw links between your lifestyle and your metabolism, inflammation and muscle development. With it, you can see that obesity accelerates biological ageing. Many severely obese people turn to bariatric surgery such as a stomach band; but exercise, nutrition and sleep are powerful and longer-term strategies which Hurdle can help you measure and monitor.

Example 2: Smoking related disease

We all know that smoking causes lung cancer. Less well known are other smoking related disease: other cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, strokes, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The effects are just on you though; epigenetics can show a measurable impact of passive smoking on those around you. Moreover, epigenetics shows an increased risk of asthma and nasal allergies in the children and grandchildren of female smokers.

Epigenetics links smoking to disease risk but also to inflammation, metabolism, kidney and red blood cell function. With smoking, biological ageing accelerates. There will always be some epigenetic trace of previous smoking and the increased risk of the above diseases can persist for many years; however the risk does reduce notably when you quit. Light smokers can get back to near normal epigenetics in less than a year. There is no equivalent of a gastric band for smoking, but you can use Hurdle to understand your risk of smoking related disease and kick off your journey to quitting.

What does the future hold?

Epigenetics has a unique ability to draw together disease risk with actionable lifestyle changes. In time, Hurdle will be able to measure the impact of stress, chemicals, toxins and pollution on our health and more importantly, give meaningful suggestions for you to get healthier. So why not get to know your epigenome today?