At-home DNA testing is becoming all the rage. It has been almost ten years since the first direct-to-consumer DNA testing kits were released to the mainstream.
Despite significant scepticism surrounding the accuracy of the DNA analysis, the at-home DNA testing market has enjoyed exponential growth.The global market is expected to be worth more than $2.5 billion by 2024, according to a recent report by Global Market Insights.
Although using saliva samples to use your DNA to find out more about your family tree and ancestry is fascinatingly easy, you may not be aware that these same saliva samples can be used to delve deeper into your physical well-being.
According to this 23andMe vs Ancestry review, 23andMe offers a combined ‘Ancestry and Health test’ that does not require monthly, bi-annual or annual subscriptions, unlike some of its competitors. In fact, 23andMe splits its Ancestry and Health test into five core categories – Genetic Health Risks, Ancestry, Wellness, Carrier Status and Traits.
Understand how genetics increase your risk of certain diseases
You can send your DNA saliva sample off and receive a detailed Genetic Health Risk report, outlining whether you carry genetic markers linked to common causes of certain health conditions and diseases. This is by no means an official form of diagnosis, but these specialist reports can provide unique insights to raise awareness of yourself – something that is incredibly important in terms of how you lead a healthy lifestyle.
Learn where your DNA is from
It is quite remarkable how much data can be gleaned from a saliva sample. The 23andMe test pinpoints exactly where your DNA is from out of more than 1,000 regions across the globe. It also displays genetic traces of where your distant relatives lived through the centuries.
How does your DNA relate to your wellness and lifestyle?
According to 23andMe, your well-being and lifestyle choices are linked to your genes in some way, shape or form. Their Wellness reports also uncover how your DNA relates to everything from your muscle type and lactose digestion through to your sleep patterns and weight. The reports pinpoint healthy habits that individuals with your genetics should adopt to guard against any genetic predispositions.
DNA’s influence on your personal traits
You may not be aware that DNA can shine a spotlight on your likelihood to have certain characteristics and traits. DNA influences everything from your voice, your taste preferences, your smell and even your facial features such as freckles and dimples. These DNA Traits reports show how the traits develop and evolve and their other contributing factors.
Thinking carefully about your carrier status
For those thinking of starting a family in the short-to-medium-term, you may consider taking an at-home DNA test to determine the ‘Carrier Status’ of both the mother- and father-to-be. If you are a ‘carrier’, it means your DNA contains one genetic variant of a condition. This does not mean you will typically develop the genetic condition, but it does mean you will pass on the gene to your children.
Google co-founder, Sergey Brin recently discovered he was a carrier of Parkinson’s disease after taking the 23andMe test. If both parents are carriers of a specific genetic variant of a condition, there is a 25% chance their child will develop the condition, according to 23andMe.
Ultimately, at-home DNA testing is now able to help individuals and their partners improve their awareness of their personal health. This, in turn, allows them to work more closely with their general practitioners to plan ahead for the health of their future families.
Wendy Whitehead worked as a teaching assistant at two special needs schools in London before embarking on a different career as a marketing consultant.