Each genome is responsible for a person’s eye color, his height, her hair color, as well as statistics for their risks for inherited diseases. We receive genes from both our Mother (Maternal Group) and our Father (Paternal Group). Depending on whether you were born as a male, or a female will determine the number of X and Y chromosomes.
Genetically speaking, every human on Earth is built from the same mold. 23 Pairs of chromosomes make-up an individual’s genetic blueprint however, each chromosome is made up of long chains of roughly 3 billion DNA base pairs which are unique to each person and is found in every cell in your body. Consider your genome to be a novel, and each chromosome to be a chapter of that novel and somewhat of a blueprint of who you are.
Males are born with an X and a Y chromosome, and Females are born with two pairs of X chromosomes. Ok so now that we’ve flashed back to 6th-grade science class, let’s talk about how you can use your genetic information to your advantage.
Over the last decade, genetic testing has become more readily available to the public with companies like 23andMe helping individuals to gain insight into not only their genetic makeup, but their traits, ancestry composition, health predisposition, and wellness reports.
Of course, there are other factors that can affect one’s health as well like: your environment, diet, exercise, and daily lifestyle habits. Looking into your genetic composition is not only fun and surprising, but it can also be very interesting! You will be utterly amazed at what you will discover should you decide to purchase a kit and see what’s going on in there.
Although genetic testing is still in its early stages from a medical reliability standpoint, the technology continues to improve, and as more data is gathered scientist can be more sophisticated with how DNA is analyzed and will assist with giving insight on genes and the correspondences with illnesses and how to treat them. The majority of companies that do this type of genetic and ancestral testing tend to use a simple saliva test, and some go even deeper and use blood samples.
So, what’s your story, and how do you find out? Most genetic testing kits can vary anywhere from $59.00 dollars to upwards of $199.00 dollars or more. But you should be cautious! Not all test, nor the labs they are tested in are created equally, and some labs have different standards than others.
You’ll want to look for a CLIA or (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment) certified Lab, which in laymen’s terms means that the testing is performed by a top-quality laboratory, using the latest and greatest technology like the Illumina Global Screening Array, and tested by certified individuals who are qualified to do so.
Typically, you’ll purchase a kit, the kit show’s up in the mail, fill out the registration form, spit in a tube and mail it back with the postage paid box it came in. After about 3 to 8 weeks you’ll receive a notification through an email (if that’s the option you chose) about your results.
Specifically, with 23andMe you can learn so much about yourself like: what percentage of your DNA comes from a region or continent, if you are predisposed to certain deficiencies or genetic mutations, what percentage of your genes you share with Neanderthals, the probability of being lactose intolerant, or if your hair color changes color in the sun.
And what’s more, now there is a way for you to connect with your genetic family on the DNA Family social media platform. If you are an American living in Indiana, imagine having third cousins in Iceland, and fourth cousins in Australia just as an example. Amazing I know right!
Having a more accurate map of your genes and DNA will offer greater access to what was once complicated medical information. With this information, you can both improve and safeguard you and your family’s health. Let’s not forget, if you’re a parent, you have passed your genetic information down to your children as well…or at least half of it. Just one gene may have hundreds or even thousands of variants. Testing these variants may give some insight into the risk for ovarian or prostate cancer, or even diabetes and breast cancer, etc. Stay tuned for the next post where we will go even further with how and why you should alter your daily routine to make you and your loved one’s genetic health the best it can be. Cheers!