Technology and advances in science has provided us with a world of information and discovery — about ourselves!

Today, various DNA companies can provide you with both in-depth information regarding your family history and/or some illnesses you may be prone to get in the future.

Human DNA is about 99.5% identical from person to person. However, there are small differences that make each person unique.  Those unique variants can be linked to certain health conditions, traits, and ancestry groups.dna1

For example, 23andMe provides customers with information regarding others who may currently share your DNA and the locations around the world of some your fairly ancient ancestors.  These genetic test also can inform consumers about their risk for several diseases or conditions. These are direct-to-consumer results that provide information on whether an individual has a predisposition to certain diseases.

dna 2The process is simple. A saliva sample is collected and sent in a specially designed package via U.S. mail. The saliva contains DNA from cells in your mouth. A report is provided to you (usually online) six to eight weeks later lets you know your private genetic report. Depending upon which test you request (ancestry and/or health information), this permits individuals to make informed decisions about their lifestyle choices and helps with discussions with health-care providers. It is also useful for finding out more of your own heritage and areas of the globe where your ancestors lived.

“The key is that these genetic factors signal increased risk and do not guarantee disease will develop,” said Peter Hulick, MD, Medical Director of the Center for Personalized Medicine and Center for Medical Genetics at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Illinois.

“Even if you test negative for all known [disease] genes, your risk for that disease may still be increased based on your family history,” said Mary Freivogel, President of the National Society of Genetic Counselors.

The 23andMe test costs $99 for a report on ethnic ancestry or $199 for ancestry, wellness, and genetic health risks. For $99, Ancestry provides significant family history and a means to contact current relatives you may not know you have. Each company has discounts from time to time.

It is an interesting study of and about yourself – and a good way to locate relatives you may not know you have!

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