Published On: Mon, May 13th, 2019

Right Down to the Roots: What Does an Ancestry Test Say?

Home DNA ancestry tests are exactly what it says on the tin. They are simple DNA tests you can do at home to learn about your ancestry. Of course, the actual testing takes place in a lab and the only thing you need to do at home is to take the samples, which you will then mail to the company you bought the test from. Results that you’ll get are supposed to tell you about your ancestry and, possibly, genetic predisposition to diseases and some other health tips. Sounds exciting?

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Over 26 million people definitely think that it does sound exciting and they’ve already taken these tests. Their popularity is growing every year as tests become more affordable. However, one should never forget that while learning about your ancestry is fun and somewhat helpful, you should take health advice you get from these tests with a whole bucket full of salt.

Why Are People Going Crazy over Home DNA Ancestry Tests?

The reason for the crazy boost of home DNA ancestry tests’ popularity is twofold. The first part of it is the fact that genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies today. People are particularly crazy about it in the US and the Brits have always had a history of respecting and researching one’s roots. Other countries are rapidly catching the genealogy fever and home DNA testing kits serve as perfect fuel for this passion.

The other reason that makes home DNA testing popular is the modern people’s obsession with healthy lifestyles and health in general. These kits offer one a chance to learn more about their body and risks of diseases they are predisposed to on the genetic level.

There are many home DNA testing kits available on the market today and you need to understand that they differ quite a bit. Ancestry tests by AncestryDNA are recommended if you want to compile your own family tree. As the company is one of the industry veterans, having been active since 2012, it currently has one of the biggest databases of DNA. This means that the ancestry estimation it can give you will be one of the most accurate.

Never forget that the results of home DNA tests rely heavily on the database the new set of DNA is compared against. Ancestry, in particular, is good for the Europeans because it has a huge collection of DNA from that region. Therefore, it can determine your ancestry along the European roots with great precision.

Pay attention to such details when choosing a home DNA kit. Today you can find a great number of those and they cost about the same. The kits are quite affordable as the majority of them is available for under £200. The simplest variations of ancestry tests should cost you about £60 or less.

What Do Ancestry Tests Tell You?

Home DNA ancestry tests tell you some information about your ancestors. Usually, it boils down to a list of nationalities mixed within your DNA. But bear in mind that ancestry does not equal heritage. This means that if your test results come back stating that your ancestry is 70% Italian this doesn’t mean that your mother or father are, in actual fact, Italian.

To understand the value of home DNA testing results you need to understand how it works, which is rather simple:

  1. You send your DNA sample to the testing company’s laboratory.
  2. They use specialized equipment to analyze your DNA (testing methods may vary depending on the equipment used).
  3. Your DNA test results are compared to the DNAs of people with known ancestries, which are included in the company’s database (all human beings have about 99.9% of the absolute same DNA makeup).
  4. Your supposed ancestry is determined based on the highest level of similarities to the information in the database.

As you can see, this test has very little to do with actual proof of heritage and more to do with how big and versatile the company’s database is.

That is not to say that these results are completely inaccurate. They might be valuable in some way as there are some diseases that certain ethnic groups are predisposed to by default. You can use the information you gain from this test to find out if you are at risk. This test result won’t be solid proof, but you can rely on it to know in which areas you need to be more cautious.

Should You Make Health-Related Decisions Based on Home DNA Tests?

From the way how these tests work you should see that they do not provide solid ground to make any health-related decisions. The health tips some of them offer are about as accurate as their ancestry information. Therefore, you shouldn’t rely on them.

However, there is no reason to discard this advice completely if it fits. The majority of those tests offer good suggestions for leading a healthier lifestyle. Those that caution you about disease risks might not be entirely accurate, but they might be accurate enough to give you cause to worry. If you have symptoms pointing to some of the conditions the DNA test warns you about, you might consider getting proper tests at the hospital.

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