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Facts About DNA Testing Kits You Need to Know

by Melissa Bell
5 minutes read

While DNA test kits are a great way to learn more about your ancestry and how you can improve your health, they also have privacy concerns. This is what you need to know before you purchase one. It was not possible to unravel the secrets of your health and heritage through a consumer DNA test. This was a possibility that people didn’t even consider until recently.

These direct-to-consumer (DTC) DNA tests can be purchased from multiple vendors for just as little as $100. They are not only a possibility but also a potential problem. You might learn the information you don’t want to share with other companies by ordering online tests.  Here are facts you need to know about home DNA test kit.

Kits Can Have Different Accuracy Levels Depending on the Testing Methods

Some tests may not meet the standards expected. There are many absurd stories you may have heard. Recently, for example, a test failed to recognize that a supposedly human DNA sample had been taken from a dog. However, the test did conclude that the dog should be doing a lot of exercise because of his genetics. The DNA test kit was designed to give information about a person’s physical, mental, and cognitive abilities. There are several genetic variants that the kit can test for, though there are also more expensive kits with thousands of variants.

It is important to remember that companies cannot give you advice about your diet, which sports will be best for you, or any other similar information. Experts say DNA tests are inaccurate because they only use small-scale studies on a limited number of people to provide recommendations. It is important to remember that only results from a small group of people can be applied to all populations.

Home DNA test Kits Typically Look for Genetic Variations, Known as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms

DNA testing companies will analyze your DNA to find genetic variants after they have extracted DNA from your saliva or cheek swab. These variants can be used to build DNA. There are four types of building blocks of DNA, called nucleotides. They come in the following formats: A, T, C, and G (adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine). These bases are 3 billion pairs or 6 billion letters, and all are strung together in a single sequence. This genetic information is known as your genome.

Companies that test DNA can determine which letters are present in different locations within your genome. The sequence is often shared between humans, so companies concentrate on letters that differ from one person to another, popularly referred to as SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms).

Many SNPs are of biological significance. One example is that if you have one variant of an SNP close to the OCA2 gene, which codes for the protein thought to be responsible for producing melanin (which codes for the OCA2), it’s more likely that you will have blue eyes. Specific SNPs are associated with other traits, and some diseases are more strongly than others.

DNA Testing Requires a Simple Spit

A DNA test is the most straightforward medical test ever invented. Take some saliva and put it in a container. Then, send it to the lab with all of your information. You will see the results in a few months.

DNA Test Can Reveal Genetic Connections, But Sometimes the Information is Limited

There are many ways DNA companies can determine your ancestry. However, most of the tests involve comparing the customer’s DNA with reference DNA representing populations from different geographic regions. Most people have some mix of heritage, so ancestry can be represented as percentages, such as 26 percent Polish, 14% Greek, etc.

These tests can’t guarantee the location of your ancestors’ actual lives. They cannot compare your data with DNA from people who lived hundreds of years ago. The results may not be as accurate if all the people in the reference population are not equal. The reference data is more relevant for people with European roots than those from the Middle East and Asia. Companies are adapting their research to offer more detailed information about ancestry to people from all walks of the globe as they conduct more research on a wider range of people.

DNA Tests Can Provide Health Information

Although DNA tests can reveal your inability to detect the unique odor of asparagus pee, most users are seeking deeper information, such as whether they have genetic variants associated with diseases like Alzheimer’s or breast cancer.

Genetic risk is all about probabilities. It may seem frightening to find out that you have an SNP that is associated with a tenfold increased risk of a particular disease. However, if the disease affects only 0.01 percent of people, your chance is still 0.01 percent. If you suspect you may have an SNP that is strongly linked to a more common disease, it’s a good idea to see a doctor for a thorough evaluation.

A disease-associated SNP doesn’t necessarily mean you have a diagnosis. False positives are more likely with rare variants. A positive test result for a rare variant is more likely than one in a million for a more common variant. Companies report on genetic variants that scientists and doctors have not deemed medically relevant to test for. This is why it is dangerous to try combining every SNP.

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