If you’re reading this, your DNA’s likely comprised of 23 pairs of chromosomes. That would make you a human, as well as a potential customer for the at-home DNA testing kits sold by 23andMe. Order and register your kit, send in a tube of your spit, and in upwards of four weeks you’ll get access to genetic information that’ll clue you in about your health and heritage in ways you never thought possible. Or, perhaps, important.
How it’s possible is an explanation best left to the scientists, but why it’s important is best left to you to repeat to as many people as possible: genetic testing will tell you if any children you plan to conceive will be at risk for inherited traits and conditions. And that’s not all. What can DNA testing tell you about such “garden variety” diseases as diabetes? According to 23andMe, “on average, one person in five develops diabetes by age 79. Variations in your DNA tested for by 23andMe might raise your risk to one in three, making your lifestyle choices on factors like exercise and weight control even more critical.” Whether you use this site’s kit or choose to have genetic testing done in a doctor’s office, there’s no debate that that’s news you can use.
Once 23andMe tests your DNA, they store it in their database, allowing you to access your genome or genetic information online. You can also pay to compare your genes with those of others registered with the service, making it a genetic Facebook of sorts, enabling you to potentially find potential living relatives as well as details about who your ancestors were and where they lived.
Whether you spring for the testing or not, watch the site’s Genetics 101 video that’ll re-school you about DNA’s building blocks and help you appreciate that the next time someone tells you that “you have your father’s hair,” what they’re actually saying is “you appear to have inherited a gene or genes from your father that makes a protein that instructs your hair follicle cells to produce hair that curls like your father’s.”