Home DNA kits are getting extremely popular today and with good reason as they do have the power to help improve your health. However, you shouldn’t forget that these kits are a new flashy trend surrounded by much marketing hype. Therefore, if you don’t want your own story of using them to be a tale of disillusionment, much like this one in The Guardian, you need to use them wisely. This means finding a high-quality home DNA test that can truly provide useful information on the risks of certain diseases. Then, using this information as a precaution to adjust your diet and lifestyle plans to help protect your body from those conditions.
But most importantly, you need to remember that the results of any genetic tests you do at home must not be taken as absolute truth. Genetic testing is not a precise science (NIH), even when the tests are carried out in hi-tech professional laboratories. Therefore, if
What Exactly Are Home DNA Kits and How Do They Work?
First of all, you need to understand that DNA testing kits you use at home aren’t some magic tools that will provide you with a list of results right away. The tests themselves are performed by professionals in a specialized laboratory. The procedure itself is rather simple. The company sends you a kit and you provide the samples and mail them back. Then, the company runs necessary tests using different DNA testing techniques, and you get a personalized report.
Note that the company enters the data they collect from tests into their own database. Compare DNA Kits mentioned that the home genetic testing industry is not well-regulated yet. That’s a major concern for users and the reason why you need to put in the time and effort to study reviews and comparisons of the companies, which offer these tests. Your extremely sensitive private data is at stake here, so you should always seek out information from independent objective sources.
The majority of home DNA kits are focused on ancestry testing. That’s why these products are most popular with people who love genealogy. There are quite a few of them today as this particular interest has recently become an insanely popular hobby, according to TIME. However, some companies offer specialized health-oriented tests. Those are the ones that help screen for dangerous diseases. The leading companies to offer such tests today are 23AndMe, HomeDNA, and Futura Genetics.
What Can You Learn About Yourself Using Home DNA Kits?
The majority of companies that offer health DNA home testing kits present this service as a ‘comprehensive health analysis’. However, the exact specifics of the tests differ greatly. Therefore, it’s essential that you find out exactly what details the results can provide. You’ll need to check each test individually in order to do this.
For example, 23AndMe offers a genetic health risks report that includes information on:
- Genetic risks for breast and ovarian cancer (other types of cancer are also included and the testing is based on BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene variants)
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Lung and liver disease
- Celiac disease
- High cholesterol (and the associated risk of heart disease)
- Anemia caused by the G6PD gene deficiency
- Iron overload
- Blood clots
- Dementia (Alzheimer’s disease)
- Parkinson’s disease
Reliable companies should provide detailed information about the types of tests they use to screen for various diseases. Take your time to research every science term in those materials so you can make an educated decision and choose a test that provides the most accuracy.
How Does Knowing Your Genetic Risks Help You?
When you know what risks you have on the gene level, you can plan your lifestyle in a way that will reduce them. Of course, leading a healthy lifestyle offers you some protection against all diseases by default. However, if you have any specific weaknesses, you will need to take additional steps to safeguard against them.
For example, if you are at risk of age-related macular degeneration, you will need to ensure your diet includes more fish and fewer carbs. Any high-glycemic index foods will increase the risks, so you’ll need to adjust your meal plans accordingly. It’s such little, but significant details that can make a difference for your health long term. And home DNA kits can help you learn about the conditions, for which you need to research such details. Therefore, they can give you direction in your search for natural preventative measures that will help you stay healthy long into old age.
However, you should remember that while understanding your genetic risks can be helpful, you shouldn’t get obsessed over the results produced by home DNA kits. They aren’t always accurate, it’s a fact proven by research. Therefore, you should always get confirmation testing in a professional facility if the results you get are concerning. You should also do this if your symptoms get worse, but the at-home kit shows no reason to worry.