Top 4 Uses for DNA Testing

So, how accurate is dna testing? Besides those paternity tests that one might see on trash TV, what else can DNA reveal? Well, quite a lot, including whether people are carriers for genetic mutations, how Irish they really are, where their ancestors came from, and their genetic predisposition to getting bunions.

1. Ancestry

Even though genetic DNA testing has been around for a while, it has picked up lots of steam in recent years. At-home genetic testing kits are as simple as spitting into a tube and sending it to a company. Within a couple of weeks, participants can get a report of their family line traced back several generations. For those wondering how accurate is DNA testing for ancestry, consider that there are a few different testing options. An autosomal DNA test is accessible to everyone and can trace back a person’s lineage on both sides of their family. Mitochondrial DNA testing tracks the heritage on an individual’s maternal line while a Y-chromosome DNA test explores the patrilineal, or father’s, side of the family tree. Naturally, only men can take the Y-chromosome DNA test.

2. Genetic Diseases

Spitting in a tube can also provide people with more insight into their likelihood of developing certain illnesses. While some genetic mutations occur as a result of one’s lifestyle, there are others that can be passed down from parents. Being aware of some genetic predispositions can help people to take better care of their preventative and overall health. Individuals should keep in mind that genetic testing is only part of the picture. There are plenty of other factors that will play into whether or not someone develops a disease. These include lifestyle habits and environmental surroundings.

3. Health Risks

DNA tests such as 23andMe can inform people about any diseases or health risks that they might be more prone to. For instance, participants can see their genetic risk for developing celiac disease or lactose intolerance. They can also find out if they are a carrier of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which greatly increase a person’s chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Some DNA kits can look at over a dozen different carrier genes to provide further insight into any symptoms that an individual should be looking out for. They can see how their genes influence their weight, muscle composition, and how well they sleep at night. Again, a DNA test isn’t the be-all, end-all answer but it’s cool to have these additional insights.

4. Miscellaneous Traits

Furthermore, DNA testing can provide some supplementary evidence for why people hate the taste of cilantro or how likely it is that their children will have lots of hair when they’re born. These traits reports are often a fun addition to the more serious reports on genetic mutations and diseases. Knowing that they’re more prone to have misophonia, or a dislike for certain sounds, may explain why they freak out when their spouses eat too loudly. Of course, they shouldn’t use these trait reports as an excuse for the way they act but it’s cool to see how different one person’s DNA can be from another. Or, vice versa, how people tend to have more in common with others than they think.