DNA or genetic genealogy testing is a way that people can discover information about both their ethnicity and ancestry. It allows individuals to gain insight beyond what they can learn from family members or historical records. Analyzing DNA variants offers indicators about the origins of a person’s ancestors and connections between families. Some arrangements of genetic variation are common among people of certain backgrounds. Individuals and families who are related typically share more genetic patterns.
DNA Test Ethnicity
There are three commonly used genetic genealogy tests that also provide information about ethnicity. Much like the parts of a Rubik’s Cube, each test has its own individual function in connecting the pieces of a person’s ancestry. In addition, each of these scientific assessments has its own assets and impediments. The test that is ultimately chosen will depend on test taker’s objectives.
Y chromosome testing – paternal line
Variations in the Y chromosome are passed exclusively from father to son and can be used to explore ancestry in the direct male line.
Y chromosome testing can only be done on males because females do not have Y chromosomes. However, women interested in this type of genetic testing can recruit a male relative to have the test done. Standard Y DNA chromosome tests are helpful in determining a common lineage between two families with the same surname to find genetic cousins. They can also be useful in identifying the geological and ancestral origins of a patrilineal line.
Mitochondrial DNA test – maternal line
Mitochondrial DNA tests (mtDNA) identify genetic variants in a person’s mitochondria DNA. Mitochondrial DNA consists of small tubular packets of genetic material located in the mitochondria. Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from the mother so this test provides information about a family’s history in the material line. Since mothers pass DNA to both their male and female children, both sexes can take this test. The mitochondrial DNA test allows individuals to retain information about their maternal ancestors but also assists in finding people who are related in the maternal line.
Single nucleotide polymorphism DNA test ethnicity
These tests, also known as SNPs, evaluate the DNA sequence for a large number of single nucleotide polymorphisms variations across an entire genome. SNPs are the most frequent genetic variant that occurs normally in human DNA. SNP’s are found in an average of one and every 300 nucleotides, so they are approximately 10 million SNPs in every person’s genome. This data is compared with the results of other people who have taken the same test to provide a gauge of an individual’s ethnic background.
So the SNP pattern indicates the rough percentage of a person’s ethnicity. In addition, single nucleotide polymorphisms can also assist researchers in identifying genes related to specific diseases. SNPs can serve as biological guideposts by assisting in the location of genes that are linked with certain diseases. SNPs highlight the variances in different people’s vulnerability to a vast array of disorders.
Thus, the progression of an illness and the body’s response to medical treatment are also the result of genetic differences. Certain SNPs have shown to be extremely useful in the study of the health sciences. Scientists have discovered SNPs have the potential to help determine how different individuals will respond to certain drugs. They may also be able to predict the likelihood of people developing specific diseases and trace inherited conditions within families. In the future, science may be able to recognize the SNPs correlated with complicated diseases such as cancer and heart disease. The increased use of genealogical DNA tests is due in large part to an escalated curiosity in personal ethnic origins and ancestral history. People who want information about their ethnic origins usually choose the SNP test, while securing answers to questions regarding a specific lineage may be more suitable to the Y chromosome or mitochondrial DNA test.
Yet those wanting to supplement research for a family tree may use a combination of all three tests. Many companies offer DNA testing for ethnicity and ancestry. Most use online forums for customers to share results and find people who may be unknown family members. And for the purposes of demography, an aggregation of genealogy testing can be used by scientists to examine the origins of populations as they developed into civilizations around the world.
What are the Benefits of DNA Test for Ethnicity?
Genealogical and ethnic DNA tests have become a sought-after tool due to the simplicity of home testing and their suitability in assisting with the genealogical investigation. These tests can determine with a high level of precision whether individuals are related. Genealogical DNA tests have shown be more decisive and speedy than sorting through civil records which are only as accountable as the author of the record.
Ethnic DNA testing can assist families in verifying the accuracy of their family tree. It is an excellent tool for in-depth genealogical research. DNA results can be linked to a family tree and trace common surnames of distant relatives through extensive online ancestry databases. These databases create DNA and ancestral public trees to form clusters of probable relatives. This tool can also match potential ancestors who haven’t already been identified in a family tree. These matches make it possible to discover people who share DNA which allows individuals to pinpoint a biological connection. Whether attempting to prove an ancestral connection to a particular individual or trying to find information about a biological great-grandparent, DNA testing can assist in these endeavors.
Human history is condensed into the genes of every person. The information received from DNA testing gives the scientific community a great deal of data about the lives of our ancestors. Often times, the elders of a family talk about their parents or grandparents migrating from other countries.
Genealogical DNA testing is a useful tool in verifying and uncovering geographic origins of recent and distant ancestors. Ethnic DNA testing compares a person’s DNA with other individuals across the globe and provides information that is helpful in determining what regions a family’s forebearers came from.
With technological advances and an increased curiosity that individuals have in regards to their own ethnicity, genealogical DNA testing is now more accessible than ever before. Affordable kits can allow individuals to uncover a variety of information about their family history, and it’s less costly than hiring a genealogist. In addition, ancestry DNA testing is a fun and cost-effective way for families to learn about how they fit into history’s framework. In many cases, DNA testing serves as the catalyst that turns into a life-long hobby.
How Do DNA Tests for Ethnicity Impact Your Health?
As the scientific community has increased its capacity to understand the genetics of human beings, so too has the hope that one day DNA testing will drastically alter individualized preventative healthcare care and treatments. Even now, DNA testing has become so common that most people can examine their own genetic health to identify a predisposition for a wide array of possible health conditions.
DNA tests can quantify a person’s imminent risk for developing specific genetic disorders as well as their carrier status for diseases that could be passed on to children. The degree to which a person’s health is determined by genetics versus environmental factors and lifestyle depends on the specific disease. Diseases such as cystic fibrosis or Huntington’s Disease that are solely genetic, are referred to as 100 percent penetrant.
This means that if a person is genetically predisposed towards a disease, they will eventually show symptoms of the condition regardless of his or her behavior. However, other diseases such as diabetes have a genetic component, yet can still be prevented through behavioral interventions. Then there are other diseases like lung cancer that develop primarily because of behavior. However, unstable genetic mutations can function as a powder keg that can be activated at any time within an afflicted genetic line. Those individuals who have mutated genes can show no symptoms yet still pass the condition on to their children.
For instance, sickle cell disease is a condition that occurs more often among people of African or Mediterranean heritage, and Tay-Sachs disease is commonly seen in Jewish as well as Eastern and Central European people. Both of these disorders are inherited although in most cases, the parent is just a carrier. Therefore, DNA testing can be an important tool to decipher genetic configurations and engage in proactive measures to protect future offspring. Conversely, individuals can use ethnicity DNA tests to make specific lifestyle changes that would be beneficial in accordance with their genetic signature.
One of-of the major health benefits specific to DNA ethnicity testing is that it can reveal inherited health characteristics. Other benefits include:
- Promotes awareness of inherited disorders
- Provides personalized data about current health penetrant diseases
- Can assist individuals in taking proactive lifestyle changes
- No approval needed from physicians or health insurance providers
- Less expensive than DNA testing provided by a physician or clinic
- DNA sample collection is efficient, easy, and noninvasive
- Results can be obtained quickly
DNA tests for ethnicity can be empowering by giving people the information necessary to take more control over their health. Behavioral changes do have the ability to counteract genetic risks. In addition, understanding the correlation between genetic variations and the risk of developing certain diseases can potentially reduce health care costs and foster a new path to creating a healthy lifestyle. When an individual knows they possess genes that predispose them to a specific disease, they have the opportunity to be more cognizant about the symptoms associated with the disease.
They can also follow up with more clinical testing with their physician. So if a person’s gene has the allele for a mutation of the blood clotting factor 5, it could indicate that he or she could be at risk of one day having deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
In this case, the individual should have their thrombin levels tested since DVT can cause pulmonary embolisms and strokes that can be life-threatening. Another scenario is the case of familial breast cancer.
When a woman has a family history of breast cancer, DNA tests can reveal what type of mutation is present.This type of breast cancer is not totally penetrant, so 20 percent of women who have the mutations will not develop the disease. However, those individuals who carry the mutation should be much more observant about having regular mammograms.
Furthermore, if a DNA test reveals that a person carries genes that make them more susceptible to type two diabetes, it’s imperative that he or she engages in a specific diet and exercise regimen as well as monitors blood glucose levels. Moreover, having a precise understanding of which genetic anomaly correlates with type two diabetes can help in creating an appropriate treatment plan. For example, hereditary pancreatitis is a genetic condition identified by frequent episodes of inflammation of the pancreas caused by genetic regions that decrease insulin-producing cells. Consequently, this condition should be treated with medication that triggers insulin production.
Moving forward, it is likely that more doctors will begin to possess the knowledge needed to interpret DNA test results and use the data to inform their treatment decisions.Beyond primary care physicians, there is a growing demand for doctors who specialize in genetics as well as genetic counselors to assist in interpreting DNA test results.In the near future, the scientific community may understand the reason mutations form in human genomes and the molecular foundation for many diseases.
When this happens, a genetic diagnosis will shift from analyzing probabilities to a standardized approach that will guide a doctor’s decision-making process in treating various conditions. At that point, there may be genetic specialists and counselors working in many facets throughout the healthcare industry. In fact, many medical schools have already begun providing training on interpreting genetic data. And hopefully one day, DNA tests for ethnicity may be used as another formative tool to assist with prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of a vast array of hereditary conditions.