If you’ve spent any time studying DNA, then you’re aware of just how amazing it is. It’s the essence of all living beings and tells elaborate stories about where we came from, who we are, and where we’re going. Do you know what your DNA says about you?
What is DNA Testing?
Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA as it’s commonly known, is a threaded chain of nucleotides that carries genetic instructions that the human body and other living organisms use for growth, development, functioning, and even reproduction. It carries your genetic code and determines every single one of your traits, from the color of your eyes and hair to your various personality traits.
Whether it’s your bones, lungs, heart, or skin, every single cell in your body contains a complete set of DNA. And while 99.9 percent of DNA from any two people is identical, the 0.1 percent of DNA code sequences is what makes each person unique. These small sequences are known as genetic markers and are used in the process of DNA testing.
DNA testing, which can take on multiple forms (including parental, forensic, and genetic testing), looks at individual cells and reads the genetic markers. Because every cell in the human body contains the same DNA, these cells can be taken from hair, skin, saliva, blood, fingernails, or any bodily fluid. Once analyzed, a produced DNA reading can be compared and studied.
In the past, DNA testing has been used almost solely in criminal investigations and/or paternity cases. But thanks to growth in this industry and demand from the general public, it’s now possible for anyone, anywhere to send a DNA sample in and get a report back.
The Pros of DNA Testing
Now that we know a little more about what DNA testing is, let’s look at some of the pros and cons. We’ll start with the positives:
- Family planning. DNA testing can help parents make important decisions regarding whether or not they want to expand their family by having more children. Test results may indicate a low or high risk of passing along a genetic condition, which sometimes makes it easier to develop a plan.
- Early treatment. DNA test results may reveal that an individual carries a certain genetic disorder that they previously didn’t know they had. This can allow the individual to seek out early medical care and treatment – something that could potentially save, prolong, or improve their quality of life.
- Sometimes DNA testing is simply used to learn more about genealogy and family history. With many of the major DNA testing websites, you can discover information on where your ancestors came from and what percentage of your DNA belongs to different ethnicities.
The Cons of DNA Testing
DNA testing isn’t for everyone. Just as there are some positives, there are also a few negatives. Let’s take a look:
- Negative results. When people who think they’re perfectly healthy take a DNA test and learn that they carry a genetic disorder, it’s often challenging to deal with the results. Once you know you have a certain medical issue, it’s impossible to un-know it. People should understand the full ramifications of taking a DNA test like this.
- Family issues. Family relationships can be complicated. People have run tests before and learned that their parents aren’t their actual parents, or even that a child isn’t their biological child. This may be good in certain scenarios, but for other people ignorance is bliss.
- Privacy issues. Finally, there could be some privacy issues associated with giving your DNA to a company and asking them to develop a full profile about who you are. While most companies have strict privacy laws in place, there’s always the possibility that future employers or insurance companies could obtain these results and deny you some sort of service.
Read Your Story
When it comes to getting your DNA tested, there are some different factors to consider. Most people find it interesting, while others may have extenuating circumstances that would make it better if they don’t know everything their genetic code contains. It’s ultimately up to you to decide.
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