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    Determining Your Risk of Alzheimer's with a Home Testing Kit

    Do you have a genetic predisposition to late-onset Alzheimer's? Now you can find out using a home genetic testing kit made by California-based 23andMe Inc. The US Food and Drug Administration just approved the company's Personal Genome Service, which allows people to send saliva samples to be professionally tested for genetic predispositions for Alzheimer's and nine other illnesses. Keep in mind, having a genetic predisposition doesn't mean you're guaranteed to get sick -- these diseases are rare even among people with dispositions -- but home genetics testing can spark important conversations with doctors. Learn more about this groundbreaking genetic testing service can help you understand your risk of Alzheimer's.

    8 Active Questions | Add a Question
    How does the new 23andMe test work?

    The testing kit is delivered by mail and easy to use. Essentially all you do is spit into a tube and then mail it to a 23andMe lab using the included, prepaid package.

    How soon do I learn of my test results?

    After mailing your saliva sample to the lab, you should receive an email within six to eight weeks saying your results are ready to view in your online account.

    For which type of Alzheimer's disease is this test effective?

    The home genetics kit by 23andMe can detect predispositions for late-onset Alzheimer's, which is the most common form of the disease. People who get late-onset Alzheimer's are usually 65 and older and might not have family histories of the disease. These kits don't identify predispositions for early onset Alzheimer's.

    Will I get Alzheimer's if I am genetically predisposed?

    To have a genetic predisposition to a disease doesn't mean you'll get it -- lifestyle and environmental factors almost always play much larger roles. These diseases are rare even among people with these dispositions. However, people who have these dispositions might want to talk to their doctors about their results.

    What can I do to reduce my risk of Alzheimer's?

    Researchers have not found guaranteed prevention strategies to stop Alzheimer's from happening. The two biggest risk factors are age and genetics, and neither can be changed. However, studies have indicated that healthy lifestyle choices -- such as eating a good diet and exercising regularly -- can reduce the occurrence of Alzheimer's.

    Why did this test just now gain FDA approval?

    The company 23andMe was told by the FDA in 2013 to stop selling its home genetic testing kits. Since then, 23andMe conducted numerous surveys to prove that customers could understand the results of their genetic tests. That was the deciding factor in the FDA's recent decision.

    Is this test guaranteed to be accurate?

    There is still much debate in the medical community about the accuracy of genetic testing, and that includes these tests. That's partly why the FDA is requiring the 23andMe tests to include information about how to access genetic counseling services.

    How is Alzheimer's diagnosed?

    Only a doctor can diagnose Alzheimer's. If you have early warning signs such as memory loss, confusion or trouble solving problems, then talk to your doctor to determine whether further testing is needed.