Since 1990, the share of non-communicable diseases in India has increased to 55 per cent, led by cardiovascular diseases (CVD), diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, mental health and neurological disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, and chronic kidney disease (CKD). Most of these diseases develop due to unhealthy lifestyle and genetic predisposition. According to Pranav Anam, Founder, The Gene Box (TGB), a sample of merely 3ml blood can empower you – it will guide on the inherent health risks you may have and enable you to tailor healthcare needs.
“In an era when right from your clothes to your phone can be customised as per what you like or need, following a health fad can be a waste of time. Now, thanks to the immense scientific progress, emerging scientific approaches such as nutrigenomics, health genomics and fitness genomics have revolutionised the way health interventions can be planned – these approaches provide insights into a wide variety of parameters, including food intolerance, fitness requirements, and disease susceptibility. While nutrigenomics can be instrumental in understanding harmful habits such as binge eating, emotional eating dependence, and intolerances and sensitivities to various ingredients such as gluten and lactose, health genomics can tell your predisposition to lifestyle diseases – right from complex ones such as Myocardial Infarction (MI) or chronic ones like diabetes and its related conditions. Genomics is an effective tool that can tell you about the inherent risks, based on which one can take actions to mitigate the risk and tailor their healthcare needs,” says Pranav Anam, Founder, The Gene Box.
India is sitting on a ticking time bomb – one out of 3 Indians below the age of 30 is suffering from one or more lifestyle diseases including diabetes, high cholesterol, blood pressure, and thyroid. In the past 30 years, diabetes incidence has increased by 80 per cent while ischemic heart diseases have increased by 34 per cent. In fact, ischemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and stroke were identified among the top five leading causes of India’s disease burden.
“According to estimates, about 9.4 per cent of Indians are suffering from high cholesterol, 7.7 per cent suffering from diabetes and 6.76 per cent suffering from thyroid. In the past 25 years, deaths due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India have doubled. Together, these statistics paint a grim picture – unlike the West, people here are not regular when it comes to screening practices. It is imperative that an individual is aware of the possible way diseases could affect him or her and that is possible through genetic testing and analysing the results for meaningful and actionable insights,” says Anam.
Blood and saliva are the most popular means to collect samples. Explaining their importance, Anam says, “Genomic analytics study DNA that can be extracted from any tissue of the body. However, samples of saliva and blood are used for extraction of DNA in genetic testing due to the higher volume of tissue and higher the yield of DNA. In fact, the DNA yield in 3ml blood is more than 3 ml of saliva as there are more cells present in the blood. Samples should not be collected without the doctor’s advice – antiviral drugs and other medications or therapies may impact the yield of the sample. Those who have a common cold and cough or suffering from dengue or malaria should wait until they recover completely, though the disease may not affect the DNA yield. We advise the doctor’s nod in such cases as well.”