Among the many strategies for staying healthy is paying attention to your digestive system.
23andMe adds a new report for 23andMe+ members on diverticulitis, a common but not well-known condition that affects the gut.
Diverticulitis occurs at weak spots in the intestinal tract, where small bulging pouches become inflamed. These pouches, most often found in the large intestine (also called the colon), are called “diverticula.” They are common, especially as we age, but usually do not cause problems.
It’s estimated that more than half of people in the United States over 60 have diverticula, and most likely never have any issues. But about five percent of those individuals will develop inflammation in these pouches, a condition called “diverticulitis,” according to the National Institutes of Health. This can lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, constipation, or diarrhea. More serious complications, such as blockages or perforations, can lead to hospitalization.
Genetics, diet, a lack of exercise, being overweight, and some medications can all contribute to one’s chances of developing the condition.
As part of 23andMe+, members can now access a Diverticulitis report powered by 23andMe research data.
The new report uses machine learning techniques to estimate a person’s likelihood of developing diverticulitis. In the report, we make the estimate with a statistical model that uses data from 23andMe research participants and includes more than 5,000 genetic variants. The report also takes into account a person’s ethnicity and birth sex.
Fortunately, one can lower their chances of developing diverticulitis with a healthy lifestyle. That includes eating more fiber and less red meat, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly.
Taking steps to learn about your genetics and your family medical history, and talking with your healthcare provider will help you understand your own chances and the right steps for prevention.
23andMe’s new Diverticulitis report (powered by 23andMe research) is available to all members that join the 23andMe+ Membership. To learn more about your report, members can go here.
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