Your DNA is the Key Between Your Great Ancestors, Yourself, and Your Great Grandkids
Finding out about a person’s history through genealogy has been popular for hundreds of years, but in recent decades it’s becoming increasingly trendy and sometimes even necessary to trace your medical history through DNA testing. Once you receive the test results, you can discover interesting and often vitally important information about your genes and your ancestors’ genetic makeup.
What Can DNA Testing Determine?
A study of your genetics can indicate whether certain outcomes have a higher or lower chance of occurring for you or your blood relatives, but it’s not the final determination. For instance, the presence of a gene can indicate that you have a better-than-average chance of becoming obese. But, this indicator doesn’t automatically quarantee that you will suffer from obesity all your life. Your diet, physical activity, lifestyle choices, environment, and other genetic makeup all play a part in your body size.
Why is DNA Testing Useful?
DNA testing is useful for many reasons. Some of these include:
Vital medical information:
DNA testing can provide you with helpful medical information such as the fact that diseases such as muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, or cancer were present in your ancestors genetic makeup. This information would be helpful if you are gravely ill and your symptoms mimic several diseases, or even a rare disease. Your doctor may suggest genetic testing in order to rule out certain conditions or to justify running special tests to detect a particular disease.
Finding long-lost relatives: If you suddenly find out that you’re adopted, or if your parents are estranged from their own relatives and you’ve always had a yearning to locate these missing relatives, the DNA testing is an excellent way to do this. Many highly popular sites such as 23andMe, or AncestryDNA have huge databases where you can locate blood relations if they are also in the database.
Determine paternity: If proving paternity is an issue in a child-custody case, DNA testing is invaluable in determining who is or who isn’t the actual biological father. This information is indisputable in a court of law.
When planning to become a parent: If Down’s Syndrome, or some other serious medical issue runs in your family, it may be helpful to get DNA testing for you and your spouse to determine the possibility of your own children having the disease. This kind of testing can be an eye opener, particularly if your spouse’s DNA also includes higher risks of having the
same disease. The test results can help you decide if you want to take the risk, decide not to have children at all, adopt, become a foster parent, or even enlist the aid of a surrogate in order to become a parent.
During a criminal investigation or a catastrophe: The National DNA database has grown substantially over the last two decades and is invaluable in helping solve crimes or to identify victims of natural disasters.
To learn fun facts: If you are contemplating parenthood, you can learn about the chances of your child having blue eyes or a particular hair color. You can also determine if your child is likely to be tall or short. You can find out if your ancestors likely were night owls or the type of people to go to bed and rise early. Research how long you can expect to live, or even if your tendency to be a thrill seeker comes from your ancestors.
What to Do with Your Results
Remember that in certain cases, such as obesity the DNA results simply suggest that you have a certain proclivity to be overweight. You have control over whether this tendency becomes a fact. Having the knowledge that your body genetics are prone to obesity helps you be more cautious than someone who doesn’t have this proclivity. You can eat a healthy diet, involve yourself in regular participation in a sport or some other physical activity, and talk with your doctor about a plan of action to avoid becoming overweight in the future.
Don’t Overthink Your Results
Take your test results with a grain of salt; don’t let them overly concern you. Just because they indicate that you have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s, or some other catastrophic disease than the average person, there is also a really good chance that you won’t get the medical condition. The foreknowledge empowers you. It helps you and your doctor take every step humanly possible to avoid getting the disease. At the very least, the test results alert you of what signs and symptoms to look for so that you can treat the disease in its earliest stages. This will make the medical problem easier to cope with — and treat — over time.
One of the best benefits of having DNA testing is that it can help soothe your fears, particularly with matters of your medical history and those of any potential children or grandchildren you may have in the future. Use the DNA testing results as a smart tool to help ensure that you have the best quality of life possible in this age of technological advances.