Every living being has DNA which contains the blueprint for their physical makeup. Human DNA is parceled in 23 pairs of chromosomes and every cell contains a set. Depending on the variants of the genes that each of us carries, characters like the color of our hair, eyes, and skin, our height, the shape of our nose, and so on can be determined. What is perhaps one of the most interesting things about DNA is that it is passed down from parents to offspring and can be used to trace ancestry going back generations.
A person’s DNA can be used to trace their parents, siblings, and their genealogy. DNA can also show if a person is predisposed to hereditary diseases like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia. While an individual might not have any symptoms of the mentioned diseases and might never ever develop the condition, a DNA analysis can find out if you are at risk.
What is DNA testing?
DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid is made up of two long molecular chains that wind around each other in a double helix. Our genes are within sections of these chains. DNA testing, also known as DNA sequencing, is a process where the genetic matter is broken down into smaller pieces and run through an electrophoresis. The method helps to identify genetic mutations and find genetic matches between family members. The more the matches there are between two sets of DNA, the closer the biological relationship between the two people.
Modern-day DNA testing methods give you the option of having your DNA sequenced for different reasons. Depending on the pack you buy, you can either check your ancestry, the various races that have contributed to your DNA, look for a long-lost relative, and even check for disease-causing mutations. The cost of the pack will depend on what you want to be tested for.
When you buy a pack, you will receive a kit with a full set of instructions on how to send in your DNA sample. Most companies will ask you to either spit into a vile provided by them or swab the inside of your cheek with a swab that comes with the kit. The sample is then sealed as instructed and mailed to the company. After a few weeks, you will receive an email with a link and password to your results.
Should you get your DNA tested?
Whether or not you get your DNA tested should be your decision alone. However, here are some pros and cons of getting your DNA tested that can help you make an informed decision.
- You can understand your ancestry a lot better and even be surprised by what you find.
- Your results could help you track down relatives like biological parents or sibling that you were separated from at a young age.
- If your parents used a sperm donor to conceive you, you could check to make sure you are not a close relative of the person you decide to marry.
- You are giving your most personal details to the DNA testing company. While the company might promise to not sell your information without your consent, you could unknowingly be giving consent when you agree to the terms and conditions without reading the fine print.
- Finding out that you have a genetic predisposition to certain diseases or neurological conditions can be very traumatic. You might never develop the condition but just knowing that you could, could be very stressful for you.
If you do choose to have your DNA tested, be aware of what you are getting into and base your decision on research and sound information.