Though there are many reasons for getting tested, some situations may call for a DNA test more urgently than others. Here are 10 of the most important reasons why you should get a DNA test.
1. You want to be proactive about your health
Genetic testing can offer important clues about your health. Specifically, your test results may inform you of certain genes, mutations, or other anomalies that may put you at an elevated risk of developing certain diseases.
Of course, possessing certain genes or genetic mutations does not guarantee that you’ll develop a disease, but it does mean that you can use this information to be proactive about your health. For example, if your DNA test results indicate that you’re at an elevated risk of colon cancer, you can take preventive measures by electing to undergo a colonoscopy earlier in your life.
Similarly, if test results suggest that you may be more likely to develop breast cancer than a member of the general population, you can opt to get a mammography more often.
Several companies specialize in manufacturing at-home DNA test kits for health screening. Futura Genetics, for example, provides test-takers with a wealth of information regarding their chance of getting certain diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and much more.
2. You’re adopted and want to learn more about your biological family
If you are adopted—and especially if you were adopted in an era when open adoptions were uncommon—you may not have much information on your biological family. Getting a DNA test can be a useful way to find out more about your biological family’s history, learn about your predisposition to possible genetic health risks, or even connect with living relatives.
Some DNA test providers specialize in helping test-takers find relatives and family members. AncestryDNA, for example, has a database of over 20 million customers and is a powerful option for adoptees looking to perform genetic genealogy research and possibly get in touch with biological family members.
3. You’re involved in a child support dispute
If you’re a man involved in a child support dispute, you may have to take a DNA test in order to establish paternity. This can be voluntary or required by a court order. Essentially, a DNA test’s results can provide evidence on whether or not you are the biological parent of a child. The results of such a DNA test can have a major impact on your life and finances, which is why these celebrities decided to take one.
If you are the biological father of a child, you may be ordered to pay monthly child support, even if you do not currently have a relationship with either the mother or the child. On the other hand, if you are suspected of being the biological father of a child when you are not, you may be at risk of owing child support to a parent you did not father a child with. In this case, the results of a DNA test could prove that you aren’t the father and clear you of child support obligations.
4. You want custody of your child
This scenario is similar to the previous one, except it occurs when you’re looking to get either full, primary, or partial/shared custody of a child and need to prove that you’re the biological father.
When you’re involved in a child custody dispute, you’ll need to offer evidence to a court that the child in question is yours. To do so, the court will order you to take a paternity test, a type of DNA test that establishes whether or not you are biologically related to the child you want to gain custody over.
If you are biologically related to the child, the court may grant you rights to see the child. This means that the other parent will have a legal obligation to let you see your child, even if the two of you are on bad terms.
5. You want to find ways to improve your nutrition
Getting a DNA test can also be helpful if you’re looking to improve your nutrition. Our genes can affect the way our bodies respond to certain kinds of foods, and having knowledge of your genetic profile on hand can be helpful if you want to optimize your diet or improve your weight loss regimen.
Genes can also affect your eating behaviors, metabolism, and your body’s response to fitness and exercise training. Some DNA tests are designed to help you pinpoint the fitness and dieting lifestyles that will have the biggest impact on your health. These can help you avoid approaches that may not work as well for you.
6. You need to prove that you’re a rightful heir
If you’re involved in an inheritance dispute, you may need to provide evidence that you’re the rightful heir to a deceased individual’s estate.
This often occurs when a person dies without a will (intestate), or if you believe you’re entitled to a share of someone’s estate but aren’t in their will. Either way, you should take a DNA test in order to determine that you’re related to the deceased person and are entitled to a share of their assets or possessions.
In other situations, you may be named as an heir to someone’s estate, only to have a supposedly long-lost relative or family member show up out of the woodwork and claim that they’re entitled to part of your inheritance. In this scenario, you may have to take the dispute to court, where this “relative” will be ordered to take a DNA test to prove (or disprove) their biological relationship to the deceased.
7. You want to screen for genetic diseases before you have a child
Before having a child, it’s a good idea to check for any genetic diseases you might pass to your children. For example, if you have certain genetic mutations, even if you don’t have a condition yourself, it may put any children you might have at risk of developing diseases like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia.
If your family or your spouse’s family has a history of genetic disease, or if a DNA test reveals that you or your spouse has a genetic predisposition towards those diseases, you may want to weigh that information carefully. In this case, getting genetic counseling could help you and your partner make an informed decision about whether or not you still want to have children.
8. You’re immigrating to the U.S.
Immigrating to the United States is difficult if you don’t already have a family member or relative living in the country. If these relatives are U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents (green card holders), they can sponsor immediate family members who want to immigrate to the country.
Though DNA testing is voluntary, immigrant visa applicants can choose to get a test in order to prove that they’re related to the person sponsoring them. This can potentially speed up the processing time for an application, since it makes it easier for the State Department to verify the relationship between applicant and sponsor. Including a DNA test as part of an application can also strengthen an applicant’s case for being allowed to immigrate to the United States, making it more likely that their visa will be approved.
9. You want to determine treatment options for a disease
Though DNA tests are useful for preventive and diagnostic purposes, they can also be important once you’re confirmed to have a disease.
For example, if you are diagnosed with cancer, having knowledge of your genetic profile can help determine the best treatment options for your cancer. The effectiveness of certain cancer therapies and drugs can depend in part on your genes, as may treatment side effects or the prognosis of your disease.
Though it’s never pleasant to be diagnosed with a disease, DNA testing can help determine the optimal course of treatment and offer you the best shot at recovery.
10. You’re just interested in your genetic profile
Of course, you don’t have to have a specific reason for getting a DNA test. You can take one even if you’re just interested in your own genetic profile or family history and simply want to have more information about yourself.
After all, there’s nothing wrong with taking a test for fun. DNA tests are frequently given as gifts, and they can be an exciting activity to do alone or together with friends or with family members. Remember there’s a small chance you’ll discover something shocking, such as a family secret, a hidden affair, or a long-lost relative, so make sure you are prepared for unexpected results before you begin. Nonetheless, genetic testing can still be an interesting and illuminating activity.
You can get a DNA test for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re an adoptee and want to know more about your biological family. Perhaps you’re interested in changing your lifestyle to improve your diet or health. Maybe you’re getting a DNA test because you’re ordered to do so for a court, either for paternity or estate dispute reasons. Or, perhaps you’re just someone who wants to get a test for fun.
In any case, at-home DNA test kits are reliable, affordable, and easy to use. You’ll unlock a wealth of information about yourself, your genetic profile, and your family tree—and maybe even discover a few surprises along the way.