Genetic Health Dna Samples

Your DNA is your genetic fingerprint, and a reliable way to uniquely identify one person against another. Your DNA is identified by collecting a sample and performing various types of tests. How DNA is then tested depends largely on the purpose of the DNA analysis. DNA testing has been especially important in law enforcement and identifying criminals. In the United States, more than 160 people have been freed from prison using DNA evidence after being convicted of a crime. There are many kinds of DNA tests that are used for various purposes: The type of sample needed depends on the type of test.

Types of DNA Tests

DNA testing can reveal lots of useful information in diagnosing diseases, establishing paternity, identifying the sex of an unborn child, proving criminal responsibility or establishing your ancestral history. You can even use your DNA to find an ideal romantic connection on an online dating Web site. Because of issues surrounding privacy and ethical concerns, DNA testing is often considered to be controversial. Many people also question the accuracy of DNA test results, especially when the sample is collected in a home setting.

Home DNA Tests

You can easily find a home DNA testing kit to purchase on the Internet for a few hundred dollars. Home testing is used to satisfy curiosity or to do personal research, but not to establish paternity or identify a crime suspect for legal or court-ordered purposes. Home DNA testing could easily be tampered with or mistakenly mislabeled. Unless you are simply addressing your own curiosity, a lab test will be considered much more accurate, and only slightly more expensive. Some tests, such as those to determine susceptibility to cancer, diabetes or asthma are available through a lab at the request of your physician.

Using DNA Test Kits

Most at-home DNA tests are simple and easy for the customer to use. Collection of your DNA sample may involve a swab sample from the inside of your cheek or a strand of your hair. A hair root can be used to analyze your DNA and establish your genetic makeup. Although DNA collection is not complicated, understanding the results and their ramifications may be challenging. Before you alter your lifestyle or take recommended medicines or supplements, talk to your doctor.

Researchers caution that home tests may be misleading. The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the auditing and investigative arm of the United States Congress, published the results an investigation in 2006 questioning the accuracy of various “nutrigenetic” DNA test kits marketed to Internet consumers. Although the tests were not intended to diagnose or treat any disorder, consumers were often advised to take expensive supplements after completion of such do-it-yourself DNA tests.

If you purchase an at-home DNA test kit, consider having your primary physician, genetics counselor or medical care provider review the results of your test with you. Also, always review the laboratory or testing center’s privacy or confidentiality policy before testing.

Resources

Consumers Union of U.S. Staff. (2008). When DNA means ‘do not attempt’. Retrieved September 16, 2008, from the Consumerreportshealth.org Web site: http://www.consumerreports.org/health/healthy-living/home-medical-supplies/dna-test-kits-11-06/overview/1106_dna-test_ov.htm.

Ellis-Christensen, T. (2008). What is a DNA test kit? Retrieved September 16, 2008, from the Wisegeek.com Web site: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-dna-test-kit.htm.

New Tech Media Staff. (2008). DNA tests marketed online as ‘nutrigenetic tests’ are misleading. Retrieved September 16, 2008, from the Seniorjournal.com Web site: http://seniorjournal.com/NEWS/Alerts/6-07-31-DNATestsMarketedOnline.htm.