These days, everyday people have more access than ever to their genetic information. Whether you choose to test at 23andme, Ancestry or MyHeritage, chances are that you will discover a lot more about your unique genetic makeup. However, as advanced as many of these genetic tests have become, their user-friendliness can leave a lot to be desired. For those who don’t come from a scientific background, genetic testing can even be a bit overwhelming. Here are some tips for decoding the valuable information you receive from your at-home DNA test.
1. Don’t Discount Your DNA Matches
Through DNA testing, many people have learned that their genetic history was not at all what they expected. Some have even promoted the idea that matches are not accurate. This, however, is a falsehood. Every day, the matching technology is becoming more advanced. Whether you’re adopted or in the dark about your family’s medical history for another reason, communicating with people on your DNA match lists can help you to expand your perspective.
2. Look for Variants and Markers
On 23andme, if you select the option to receive health reports, then you will see a list of syndromes. Most of them are very rare, but some are more common. If you see that a variant for a serious illness has been detected in your DNA, then you may want to take the next step.
3. Contact a Genetic Counselor
There are a number of reasons why it’s important to stay calm while you’re going over DNA results. Keep in mind that false positives do occur from time to time. Also, the fact that a variant has been detected may not be a serious issue for you. For people who have a variant for hemochromatosis, for instance, their lives may not ever be affected by this. Those who are past childbearing years may discover that they carry a genetic mutation but that it was not passed down to their children. In this case, the information may be interesting but not necessarily useful.
4. Upload Your DNA on Promethease
Although 23andme offers detailed health reports, many of the other DNA services do not. By uploading your raw DNA results to a site like Promethease, you can receive a much more detailed health report. However, keep in mind that anomalies can occur. Although DNA testing is an exciting new technology, data may not always be accurate; there is still much work to be done.
5. Keep Updating Your Results
With many of these DNA companies running extensive updates, new genetic information may become available to you on a regular basis. However, the only way you will know it is if you keep checking the site.