Consumer DNA testing gives many people access to their genetic information without having to be officially involved with a healthcare provider or health insurance company. However, while these companies can readily obtain their a citizen’s DNA data, what does having access to genetic, health, ancestry and the other DNA tests really tell them??
What can a DNA test tell you?
Direct-to-consumer genetic tests are marketed to the public directly and they can be purchased online or in certain shops. The customers send the company a DNA sample after receiving the home testing kit. Following that they receive their results directly from a secure website or via email. Some companies even have an app or a web portal.
The popular idea of DNA testing and DNA, in general, has been plagued with misconceptions about the reliability of testing, how one is connected to their ancestors through lineage as well as the connection between DNA and personal traits. However, there are currently many of these companies worldwide and their number is growing.
These companies offer a variety of DNA or RNA-based products. The most ordered tests involve using genetic variations to estimates a person’s ancestry, to make health status predictions and to obtain information from certain genetic markers about certain traits that might develop. Some DNA tests exist to even check the microbiome within the gut as this also affects a person’s health.
There are more specialized DNA products be introduced to the market. This is because of customer demand, the growing number of such companies and the fact that there is little regulation of these genetic testing services.
What does raw DNA tell you?
It might be confusing to receive your raw DNA data but certain companies make it available to download with the test results. The raw data provided is supposed to be your unique genotype which was derived and analyzed from the initial sample you gave. the sample you provided.
Since it is challenging to decipher the genotype with only the raw DNA results, there are several services online that read the genotype for you and offer an interpretation that focuses on ancestry, risk of certain diseases and traits associated with various genes. However, there’s little or no regulation for these 3rd party services and their results might not be exactly accurate. Some of the, don’t even offer customer care unlike the market leaders in consumer DNA testing.
Alternatively, your doctor or healthcare provider can help you understand your raw DNA results. They can also offer insights if further tests must be taken or if you should disregard the results entirely. They might also advise you to get tested again to confirm the results.
What can a DNA test tell you about your ancestry?
A DNA test for ancestry is typically called a genealogical DNA test. This test is DNA-based and focuses on certain parts of a person’s genes to verify ancestral relationships as estimating the ethnic mixture of an individual.
Besides, the information about the ancestral relationships and the estimation of ethnicities that make up a person. Some of these DNA companies have new analysis tools such as making family trees and other groupings that help you visualize the results.
What can a DNA test tell you about your health?
This depends on the type of DNA test you order. These tests use genetics to estimate if a person will unknowingly develop a certain disease. Though it is a very complex process, these tests focus on single-based nucleotide polymorphism or SNPs in the genes. They analyze the DNA and search for a mutation in the DNA that can lead to diseases or that are associated with certain diseases.
Lifestyle plays a huge role in if these mutations will have any effect on a person in the long term. However, in some cases, variations in DNA may leave a person predisposed to certain diseases or conditions. These diseases include:
- Celiac disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Sickle cell disease
- Cystic Fibrosis
The results from these tests are mostly probabilistic and do not serve the purpose of the diagnosis. If a DNA test result says that you might be prone to have Sickle cell disease, it does not necessarily mean you have it. Usually, the enhanced risk predicted takes into account, only small amounts of the total risk a person has for actually getting the disease. Your healthcare provider should be contacted if you might have any questions further questions that the DNA testing company might not have answered.
SNP testing can find genes that are linked with different traits that aren’t really disease markers. This is because certain diseases are multifactorial and have many genetic variations that affect the outcome. However, comparing the DNA of different people can yield results. This helps the scientists find predisposition to tolerances and like lactose intolerance, peanut allergy, and seafood allergies. Also, you can use a DNA test to analyze the microbes in your gut which alerts you to whether you have abnormal bacterial levels with your body.
In regards to the question, genetic testing what does it tell you, we see that these DNA tests hold the key to find out certain vital information. Even though it is mostly estimations from statistical analysis of genes, we learn about our ancestry, ethnicity, family relations, allergies and predisposition to certain diseases from the DNA test results. For as long as the consumer DNA industry continues to rapidly expand, we can expect to see more uses of DNA tests.