Yes, that would certainly be a real gamechanger. And that’s exactly what’s been fueling the trend toward medical DNA testing. A powerful tool with both preventative and restorative advantages, these genetic sequencing barometers are helping the medical world revolutionize the way we approach our health. Curious about what a medical DNA test is, what you can learn from one, and how exactly it works? We’ve got the answers, so read on to be enlightened.
What is a Medical DNA Test?
A DNA test is a type of test that analyzes your DNA to give you specific information about your genetic makeup. Medical DNA tests prove your genes to give you more details about the health and medical conditions you may have inherited or be prone to thanks to your genealogy. Tests are available in convenient at-home kits, so you can take the test from the comfort of your own home, don’t need any appointment, enjoy non-invasive sample procedures, and get the results in a matter of weeks. DNA test samples can be collected by swabbing your cheek (least invasive), gathering your saliva into a tube, or pricking the tip of your finger.
Fascinating Discoveries You Can Make
Medical DNA tests are becoming increasingly more popular as the science behind them becomes more understood. Now that people are realizing all that they can learn from a simple cheek swab, consumers are embracing this new early detection method that offers a fountain of useful, sometimes even life-saving, information.
So, what can you learn from a medical DNA test anyway? Here are a few of the most important discoveries being made with these at-home kits:
- Disposition to Genetic Diseases
Probably the biggest reason for taking a medical DNA test is to determine whether or not you are a carrier of certain diseases or medical conditions. The list of diseases that are being tested for today is impressive and includes:
- Late-onset Alzheimer’s
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Hereditary hearing loss
Heart disease and cancer are the 2 biggest fatal health risks in the country. With DNA testing, you can find out if you or your kids are at a higher risk for contracting these diseases. Other diseases like Cystic Fibrosis or Sickle Cell Anemia are also genetically transferred, and these kits can tell you if you are carrying these volatile genes as well.
Bringing this down to practical life, many people are using these results to make important decisions about their future. For example, couples who discover that one of them is a carrier of these genes are opting to use IVF to conceive, preventing these genetic diseases from being passed on to their children.
- Other Genetic Health Risks or Traits
In addition to life-altering diseases and prevention, DNA tests can help you see other genetic health traits you may have inherited. Things like lactose intolerance, sensitivity to certain types of food, high cholesterol, and propensity toward obesity can also be uncovered using a simple at-home kit. Using this information can help you make small changes that will make a huge difference in your life, energy levels, and overall health.
- Your Blood’s “Age”
One of the most interesting uses for medical DNA tests, today you can actually see how old your blood is. Well, not literally how old it is, that’s obvious. But these tests show you how well your blood is aging by measuring telomere degradation.
- Nutrition & Weight loss
Finally, medical DNA tests are becoming increasingly more popular for nutrition and weight loss guidance. These tests can give you invaluable insight into the way your body works based on your genes, what type of exercise programs will work for you, and how you should be eating to optimize your nutrition for health and weight loss. DNA testing for weight loss is a real breakthrough in the diets industry because it is finally giving dieters a personalized approach to fitness and healthy eating that can yield positive results.
Here Are the Top Medical DNA Tests
Best for: Health and ancestry in one
MyHeritage is a well-known DNA testing service with over 3.5 billion profiles in its database. In May, MyHeritage launched a new addition to its product offerings: Ancestry+Health DNA testing. This 2-for-1 deal is a real steal, clocking in at just $199, and even includes a free full year trial period for a health subscription. The kit includes testing for genetic risks of developing certain conditions like heart disease and breast cancer. The thorough report gives you detailed information on 13 major genetic conditions, tells you what your carrier status is for 120 different hereditary diseases, and even shows if you have certain variants that can cause your children to develop these conditions.
Of course, like all other ancestry DNA tests, the MyHeritage ancestry and health test also tests your DNA for lineage and provides you with a wellspring of fascinating information about your heritage.
MyHeritage takes major steps to ensure its labs and staff uphold the greatest levels of privacy for all clients. All DNA testing is carried out in a CLIA-certified lab that is CAP-accredited as well. In terms of online data privacy, all information is heavily encrypted with bank-grade encryption techniques. MyHeritage also has strong privacy policies. It guarantees to never share your personal health results or DNA data with any insurance companies, or even third parties that you do not expressly consent to.
Best for: Exhaustive, thorough, and clearly-explained results
TellMeGen wins first place in the medical DNA niche. This kit tests for over 125 genetic diseases, along with reactions to medications you might take. TellMeGen offers a detailed health report that covers everything you can learn about your health from DNA testing. You can also upgrade your subscription with TellMeGen to get access to genetic counselors, nutritionists, and doctors to help plan future steps based on your genetic disposition and test results.
Best for: Nutrition and fitness reports
If fitness and a healthier lifestyle is your goal, DNAFit is a great choice. This at-home kit will test your genes to see how well you’ll do with specific types of exercises (endurance training versus aerobics, weight lifting, etc.). So, you can plan your workout based on your biology, not just randomly. DNAFit also gives valuable insight into your ideal nutritional balance. It answers questions like how well your body responds to carbs, which vitamins you’re lacking, and how to create a balanced diet plan that works well for your body.
Best for: Cellular aging
One of the only DNA tests that measure telomeres, TeloYears can tell you everything you need to know about how well your cells are aging, what to do to promote slower aging, and how to live a happier, longer life.
Best for: Weight loss and fitness
The popular diet program Nutrisystem has added a new level of weight loss excellence with DNA testing. You can get a tailored diet plan based on your genetic makeup. Nutrisystem helps you balance your nutrients, discover how your metabolism works, and optimize your weight loss efforts for better results.
Best for: Nutrition, diet, fitness
Orig3n takes a deep dive into your nutrition and fitness makeup. It’ll tell you loads of information about your aversions to foods, how well your body metabolizes certain types of foods, and how to work with your appetite, sugar cravings, and metabolic rate. Orig3n does the same with fitness, offering muscle strength testing, exercise recovery insight, and joint soreness propensity.
7. GeneGuide from Mayo Clinic
Best for: Health traits, disease screening, medication response
Mayo Clinic is renowned for its medical prowess, so you can be sure these DNA tests are going to be top quality as well. The GeneGuide is incredibly thorough and includes testing for disease risks, carrier screening, responses to medications, and propensity toward certain health traits like lactose intolerance. Mayo Clinic presents all results (and there’s a ton of them) clearly and in an easy-to-understand format.
*Honorable mentions include HomeDNA, Vitagene, CarrierCheck, and Helix.
The Future of Health Today
DNA testing is offering new and invaluable insights into our health and genetic makeup. As research continues, DNA testing will only get more thorough, accurate, and useful, making these kinds of tests as commonplace as a regular blood test of today. The ramifications on one’s health are tremendous, and everyone can look forward with eager anticipation to a healthier, happier future.