In 1953, scientists James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double helix that forms our DNA. Since then, our knowledge of DNA and how it varies among species has grown by leaps and bounds. Now, we can use DNA tests to tell us all kinds of different things, like who’s the father, or if a person was at a crime scene. Read on to learn some cool things DNA testing can do.
1. Map Your Family Tree
A relatively inexpensive DNA test can show you thousands of relatives. The way this works is simple: certain websites offer to compare your DNA to those they already have eon record. And something you might not expect: you could discover you’re not as much of a certain ethnicity as you thought!
2. Determine Your BioGraphical Ancestry
The test will measure you DNA at hundreds of thousands of different points across your genome. This data is then compared to the genetic data from populations in over 350 global regions. The resulting information is your “ethnicity estimate,” which breaks down your ethnic mix into percentages, sorted into each world region. Each person’s ethnicity results are unique; even full siblings can have different ethnicity estimates!
3. Compare Your Tests to Others
Genetic testing can also give you insights on how you relate to others in the database. Depending on how much DNA you share with others in the database, the system can guess at possible relationships. These possible DNA matches might lead you to relatives you didn’t even know existed, across the world or down your street.
4. Determine Paternity
Paternity tests are the definitive way to confirm a kid’s paternity. Whether this is for legal issues or peace of mind, it’s now easier than ever to test. Since this is a non-invasive buccal swab test, it’s quickly and easily done even on the youngest of children.
5. Track Down Relatives
As mentioned above, DNA matches can be determined, leading you to find relatives you didn’t know you had, or had lost track of. This is helpful even when members of the family are deceased or the person is adopted; ancestry can be determined via the use of DNA testing, and biological relationships can be confirmed. This is perfect for adopted children whose adoption records are sealed. DNA testing can find other living relatives, who might know your birth mother. You could gain a whole new family with one single cheek swab.
6. Determine Your Chances of Developing Diseases
Your doctor can look at your results and assess the level of risk you have to develop certain genetic diseases, like Type 1 diabetes or prostate cancer. If you are at high risk, you will be able to make sure to get in for regular checkups and possibly prevent future trouble, or even diagnose early stages of disease while they are curable or treatable.
7. How Does It Work?
The process is really simple. After you order your DNA testing kit, you’ll receive it in the mail within a few business days. With the kit comes step-by-step directions on how to collect and send the DNA sample. Just rub the inside of your cheek with the swab provided, and seal it in the bag, also provided, and mail it back with the postage-paid envelope, which is also provided. See how easy that is?
After six to eight weeks of analysis at the lab, you’ll get an email that links you to all of your genetic information found on the website. You can print it out and take it to your doctor, and spend hours of fun learning about yourself.