If you thought DNA kits could only tell you what illnesses you’re prone to, you’d be wrong. And if you thought they could only tell you about your ancestry, you’d be wrong too.
Your DNA holds the story of your ancestry as well as information about your health, aging process, illnesses you’re susceptible to, and more. Today, home DNA kits for exploring your background are available at just about every pharmacy. If you’re one of the millions of people looking into DNA kits, these tips and insights are for you.
Types of DNA Tests
There are three types of DNA tests: Autosomal, Y-DNA, and mtDNA. Autosomal tests can be administered to men and women and trace the lineage of both sexes. Y-DNA tests are administered to men only and trace patrilineal ancestry only. mtDNA tests can also be administered to men and women but trace only matrilineal ancestry.
How to choose a DNA Kit
While budget and response time are important considerations when choosing a DNA kit, a more important consideration is what you want to learn from the test. Do you want to learn about your ancestry? Your paternity? Health and disease markers? Fitness and nutrition? Different DNA tests provide different results so the information you want to get from the test should guide your decision about which kit to purchase.
Privacy is an issue
The benefits of at home DNA kits are amazing, but you should be aware of the privacy issues. For example, genetic testing companies and the pharmaceutical industry are linked, so pharmaceutical companies can use the genetic information supplied to testing companies for R&D and marketing. Furthermore, although testing companies do have privacy policies, they vary and can change. Plus, once your DNA information is online, it joins other data that can be stolen by hackers.
Understand the risks
Just because a genetic test returns a positive result for a health condition, it doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get that condition, but the information might lead you down a health path you weren’t prepared to take. Similarly, you can uncover unwelcome information about family relationships that you’ll then have to decide whether you want to share. Genetic tests can keep you more informed, but you want to be wise about what you do with that information.
Weighing the pros and cons
DNA kits can help us learn more about our lineage, hereditary disease markers, how certain medications will affect us, and even how to maximize our diet and exercise. However, they can also open up doors that we might have preferred to stay closed. Knowing the pros and cons of these tests should help guide your decision about buying one.