Everything You Need to Know about DNA Ancestry Tests

Jul 17, 2019 02:49 PM EDT | By Hannah Smith

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DNA Test

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In the medical world, DNA tests have been around for a long time, are mainly used to show the genetic relations between different people or to reveal the risk of certain diseases. However, these tests have crossed the line from the medical world to the commercial world and are now available for any individual who wishes to get to know more details about their ancestral heritage.

Nonetheless, a genealogy and heritage DNA test can be quite expensive, so there are a few things that you should know before taking such a test.

What can you learn from a DNA test?

Your ancestral heritage can help you get to know your body better, it can help you make wiser lifestyle choices and even influence your future to a certain degree. Here are the main types of information that this test will reveal:

  • Disease predisposition: DNA tests can tell you whether your body is prone to develop various diseases and illnesses. Some may know their disease predisposition from their family history, but if you are not close to your family, you couldn't possibly know these things. Moreover, it is possible to be prone to develop various diseases that may not show in the medical history of your immediate family. Armed with this information, you can make smarter lifestyle choices and prevent future health problems. Due to the health impact of these tests, they are even supported by the FDA, who was put quite a lot of time and effort into making it easy for these tests to be approved and accessible to most people.
  • Ethnic background: Unless you come from an influential family with a well-documented history, you probably don't know much about your ethnic background. A DNA test will reveal ethnic roots that you would have never suspected. Most of us have ancestors from different cultures, and it is our strong belief that if we all knew our history, the world would be a less racist and more united place. After all, we are all part of the big human family.
  • You will learn fascinating facts about your body - Your nutritional preferences can be educated by your lifestyle, but they can also be dictated by genetic memories that have been transmitted through your bloodline for generations. Even random facts like your fear of heights or your caffeine intolerance can be linked to your genes.
  • You will learn more about your family - If you are not yet sure what good or bad genetic traits your parents passed on to you, a DNA test will shed some light on this matter. It could also help you discover distant living relatives.

The downsides of DNA tests

As we already mentioned, DNA tests have become very popular products. People buy them for fun, for themselves or as unique gifts for their loved ones. Their increasing popularity has led to the appearance of numerous companies who supposedly specialize in DNA testing. However, not all these companies are accredited, and they don't all provide highly accurate results. It would be wise to do a lot of research before choosing a DNA testing company. Furthermore, keep in mind that a DNA test will reveal a lot of private information about yourself, and while most companies try to protect the privacy of their clients, you can never fully eliminate the risk of hacking. If you are a public person, you may not want to risk exposing your ancestral heritage.

How DNA test kits work

The process of taking a DNA test is simple. Once you have decided on the best test for your needs, you order it and you receive it at home. The kit will include a basic questionnaire, instructions for collecting the DNA sample, a guide on how to register your sample and sent it for the tests, and an explanation on the results that you will soon receive.

How to choose the best DNA test

here are several factors that affect the accuracy and the relevance of DNA tests and you should familiarize yourself with these factors to make the right choice for your needs.

1. Know the different types of tests. First, there is the Autosomal DNA test which mostly tests for ethnic characteristics, but it only goes back 5 generations. Next, you have the mtDNA test which gives you information that can be traced back to 10,000 years but only for your maternal line. Finally, you have the Y-DNA test, most commonly known as a paternity test.

2. Company database. The accuracy and relevance of the information provided by DNA tests depend greatly on the databases of the DNA testing companies. For example, the more genetic markers a company has checked, the more likely it is for them to be able to help you discover distant living relatives. The geographic regions that they have covered so far also matter.

3. Services offered: As we already mentioned, there are three main types of tests, and different companies use a combination of these tests to provide various genetic answers. Aside from the basic results, some companies also offer family tree integration, ancestral makeup report, Neanderthal percentage and much more.

4. Results time: If you are planning on surprising someone with the test results on a special day, keep in mind that it can take a long time to get the results. Some companies deliver the DNA test answers in 3-4 weeks, while others take as long as 10-12 weeks.

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