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Genetically Speaking

“You’ve got your mother’s eyes.”

“Our ancestors go all the way back to the Mayflower.”

“I inherited my father’s bad knees.”

Last year, home DNA tests were among the top ten global consumer trends as more than 12 million people jumped on the genetic bandwagon. Whether for reasons of health, heritage, or just plain curiosity, learning about ourselves has become crazy easy with a simple cheek swab and a return envelope. Thanks to advances in technology and a competitively successful marketing campaign a few years ago, people everywhere are discovering unknown branches in their family tree.

And it’s big business.

Companies like AncestryDNA and 23andMe are dominating the surprisingly affordable market of home kits – many under a hundred dollars – but there are numerous options out there offering different information and services.

There are a few technical terms you’ll need to know when deciding which skeletons you want to unbury. Autosomal testing is the basic one known as the family finder that we’ve all seen in the commercials. It provides results for distant relatives as well as ethnic makeup and percentages. This testing can include common genetic traits like eye color and diseases that may run in the family. It can trace back five to eight generations on both sides of the tree.

Mitochondrial DNA traces maternal lineages so it is difficult to alter. Y-DNA testing focuses on the paternal lineage and can only apply to males directly. Both of these processes can trace back as many as 100 generations.

The largest and most well known in the industry, AncestryDNA has access to a massive genealogical pool and is best for connecting to biological relatives such as those unknown to adoptees. 23andMe – referring to the 23 unique chromosomes we all have – also offers family health history as well as ancestral roots. Both take about six to eight weeks for results. More limited in scope, but cheaper and faster, is MyHeritage which offers the basic pie chart breaking down your ethnic DNA.
More and more individuals are working with health and fitness professionals to use the genetic knowledge in their lifestyle choices. The tests can determine predispositions to certain diseases or metabolism issues, providing a stronger sense of control. Although experts warn that DNA is not destiny and environment will always be a significant factor.

Depending on the company, there are a range of services from regular online access to your results including connections to relatives, to a simple one-time report. Since it’s an incredibly new product there are concerns about privacy and security so be sure to read the fine print and protect your information.

DNA testing is much more than the cliché paternity test. It’s an exciting opportunity to learn just how connected we all truly are. Who knows? Maybe we’re even less than seven degrees separated from Kevin Bacon!

Source: DLP Marketing

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