5 Lucky and Unlucky Things You Could Find in Your DNA
Let’s say you’re interested in taking a DNA test because you’ve always wanted to know more about your Irish family’s history, but then you find out your great-great-grandmother was actually of Norwegian descent, not Irish. Is that a lucky find or an unlucky one? Either way, once you decide to explore your ancestry or your health through personalized DNA results, you’d better be prepared for a few surprises.
At-home DNA analysis kits have become extremely popular because they are easy to do, the information is highly accurate, and you can learn many valuable things that can help you live a better life in the present. If you are considering doing a DNA test or giving one as a gift, get ready for the possibility that your life will never be the same.
What Is At-Home DNA Analysis?
At-home DNA test kits from companies like Ancestry.com or 23andMe all work in basically the same way. After purchasing the kit, you follow the directions to collect a DNA sample and send the sample to the company’s laboratory, where it is analyzed.
All humans share about 99.5% of their genetic material. Researchers at the laboratory have the skills and equipment needed to isolate the unique 0.5% that makes you different from everyone else. A world of information is hiding in that small amount of DNA.
It typically takes about two months to get the results of your test. Depending on what services the analyzing company provides, your raw DNA file can be uploaded into a genealogical database to find others who share your genes.
If you are taking a DNA test to learn more about your health and risks for certain diseases/disorders, those genetic markers will be analyzed. You do not need a doctor’s recommendation to take an at-home DNA test, but it is highly recommended you review DNA health test results with your physician.
To get even more from your personalized DNA results, you can upload your raw DNA data to an independent lab like Genomelink.
Lucky or Unlucky? 5 Things You Can Learn from Personalized DNA Results
Some of the information you can learn from a DNA test may be unsettling at first, but in the long run, it could be the best news you have ever received.
1. Your Risk for Serious Health Problems
When evaluating DNA test results, it’s important to remember that testing doesn’t predict whether you’ll develop a certain health problem or not. It evaluates your risk of developing that problem. For example, knowing you have a higher-than-average risk for life-threatening disease gives you and your healthcare professionals the opportunity to adjust your medical care and your lifestyle choices to focus on prevention.
Some of the health concerns that can be detected through DNA testing include:
- Huntington’s disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Certain cancers, including breast cancer
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Celiac disease
Knowing you have a high risk for breast cancer is a truth about DNA results that might feel very unlucky, but understanding your risk before symptoms even begin increases your chances of avoiding serious illness. Health information may be especially important to people who were adopted or do not have contact with one or more parents.
2. You Could Find a New Sibling or Find a Parent
At-home DNA analysis can sometimes reveal sensitive family secrets, even in the happiest of families. Learning you have a brother or sister you’ve never heard of before or that the person you thought was your father is not biologically related to you can be life-altering. But it could also turn out to be the most wonderful thing that ever happened.
To prepare for these kinds of possibilities, let the key people in your life know you are going to take an ancestry DNA test. This can open up the door for personal conversations that will give everyone a chance to prepare emotionally for your personalized DNA results.
3. The Truth About Your Ethnic Heritage
Family narratives aren’t always correct. When information gets passed from one generation to the next, it’s not unusual for mistakes to be made. Whether it’s completely accidental or because great-uncle Al had a vivid imagination, “facts” about where your family came from and how they migrated from region to region over time are often incorrect.
Personalized DNA results can reveal your genetic family’s migration patterns over several generations, sometimes revealing that you don’t have the ethnic heritage you always thought you did. It may feel unlucky to find out that family accounts are wrong, but learning the accurate story of your family’s history is ultimately a good thing. You can keep the traditions that have always been important and embrace traditions from your new heritage as well.
4. Your Longevity
So many factors influence how long a person lives that they can’t even be counted. You can eat well and exercise every day and still die unexpectedly. However, DNA tests can tell you which form of a specific gene, known as the klotho gene, you have. This gene affects many of the most common aging conditions, such as heart disease or stroke.
If you have a certain mutation in the “longevity” gene, congratulations—you’re lucky! If you don’t have it, you’re also lucky because you now know that biology may not be on your side, and you’d better take excellent care of yourself.
5. Your Risk for Obesity
Genetics don’t offer an excuse for poor health habits, but they can help you understand weight challenges and why you have a hard time staying fit despite your best efforts. The presence of a gene known as the FTO variant shows that you have an increased risk of developing obesity.
People with two copies of the FTO gene are predisposed to be a little heavier than others of similar height and build — and that’s unlucky. However, the more important fact is that they are also at a higher risk of diabetes. Knowing this information can help you protect your health and take the right steps to live a healthy lifestyle.
Are You Ready for the Hard Truth About DNA Results?
Learning more about your genetic makeup could bring disturbing or even emotionally painful news, but it is also empowering and gives you the information you need to live your best life. For more information about what your raw DNA data can teach you, contact Genomelink today.