No matter who you are or where you come from, or think you come from every single one of us has a unique genetic code (unless you’re an identical twin). This genetic source code is Deoxyribonucleic Acid, more commonly called DNA, and by closely examining your unique DNA, specialists can extrapolate a great deal of unique and useful information about not just where you come from but a DNA Test for Health Risk can alert you to potential illness markers that you may not know about.
Everyone could need DNA testing at some point. It can be used to check for genetic disorders or inherited health conditions, paternity testing, or ancestry testing to learn more about your origins and search for family members.
A simple home based DNA test is performed on a sample provided by either a saliva sample or a cheek swab. Once in the lab, the DNA sample is examined by technicians who digitize the DNA sample and look for markers or clues. DNA is made up of 4 building blocks known as nucleotides and most of human DNA is in the form of strands called chromosomes. There is a wealth of clues that the testing lab will look at, including your Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP). These variations in your DNA can be compared to other people’s DNA samples in order to find genes that can indicate a particular disease or genetic condition.
Under close examination, your DNA sample can indicate how much your individual genome (your complete set of DNA/genetic material) has in common with test populations across the world, providing an assessment of your ethnic makeup.
A DNA test for health can give you information about certain markers that indicate that you could develop some sort of genetic health condition down the road. Companies like 23andMe, which do DNA health testing, caution that these tests should not take the place of the consultation of a physician nor do they constitute a medical diagnosis. Nonetheless, they can provide some information that you can follow up.
As you are probably aware, DNA tests both prenatal and after birth—can unequivocally prove paternity, and can be of great assistance to parents trying to sort out issues of custody, immigration, and divorce.
When it comes to ancestral breakdowns, DNA tests can take our jumbled, unclear DNA and create an easy-to-follow mosaic of our family background and where we came from. These tests can zoom out and look at our DNA and how it compares to people around the world, giving us some insight on where our families came from.
If you’re simply looking for a DNA ancestry test only without any Health related testing most companies have prices anywhere between $59 – $99 per test. With most companies, you have to factor in shipping, but shipping is often included—or at least discounted—if you order multiple tests. For DNA Tests that include Health Markers normally you need to spend $150 to $250 dollars.
But right now, 23andMe is offering a special price of just $99 available on Amazon.
The 23andMe Ancestry Service includes more than 90 DNA-based online reports on Health Predispositions*, Carrier Status*, Wellness, & Traits with just one genetic test. The normal price of this test is $199. All you have to do is spare some saliva. Send a little to 23andMe and receive back over 125 DNA-based reports on your health, wellness, and ancestry.
Home Health DNA testing has come a long way in recent years. Last year, 23andMe became the first company to receive FDA approval to market genetic risk information for certain conditions. Unlike some of the other well-known DNA testing companies like AncestryDNA, 23andMe has focused a lot of its efforts on providing very useful health-related information, not just ancestry. 23andMe really excels in a number of areas and offers the most comprehensive DNA-based health test by far. For this reason, 23andMe offers the best all-around tests and remains our top recommended testing provider for most people.
If you’re planning on taking health DNA tests, 23andMe advises you to get in touch with a genetic counselor or your physician to discuss your results regarding the test. Genetic counselors are healthcare professionals with special training in the interpretation of these kinds of reports. Consultation in advance is of course optional, and many customers don’t feel the need to do it.
However, it’s extremely important to discuss any alarming DNA health test results with a genetic counselor or healthcare provider, rather than trying to interpret the risk information yourself.
Even if the test does not recognize any variants for a particular illness in your genome, this doesn’t necessarily mean you are not at risk of, or a carrier of, that disease variant. Not all variants for these illnesses have been identified yet (in the case of 23andMe, further information on this would be available in the report itself).
If you do test positive for a particular disease risk variant or carrier variant or for some specific illnesses, there are a variety of options you might consider to effectively minimize your risk and that of your children, and so you should share your results with your doctor.
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Watch as Ereka Vetrini and her husband Randy take the 23andMe Health + Ancestry service and view their reports for the first time.
We also sit down with Emily Drabant Conley from 23andMe to find out more about the company’s DNA services, which provide you with information about your health, traits and ancestry.
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