Which health conditions can ancestry DNA tests trace?

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Which health conditions can ancestry DNA tests trace?


Getting your DNA tested for health conditions can provide you with a wealth of information that could prove useful later in life, especially if you’re prone to serious conditions that would need to be treated. In order to find out if any of your genes have variants that could be a cause for concern, you can sign up with an ancestry DNA test company and send off a sample, then get it analysed and find out more about yourself.

By Imogen Groome | 23rd November 2018
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DNA tests can be useful for finding out where your ancestors come from, but it’s also helpful if you want to find out more about your health. As DNA is the genetic code in charge of how our cells function, which is passed down through the generations via genes, finding out if we are at risk of any health conditions can help us to make more informed choices in our lives.

Only a small percentage of our DNA differs between individuals, but it’s this part that cause all the diversity in the human population. Therefore, looking at these gene variants can be useful when discovering which are neutral, and which have the potential to cause serious diseases.

DNA testing companies can use a sample of your DNA, usually provided in the form of saliva, to predict your risk of developing certain health conditions based on what gene variants are in your code. Detailed reports are provided, giving the risk factors for each disease, along with your carrier status and how to interpret the results.

To find out more about these terms and what health conditions ancestry DNA tests can trace, read on.

What health risks can ancestry DNA tests tell me about?

Health DNA testing companies will analyze your DNA and tell you about your risk of developing many conditions. For example, 23andme will cover nine different disease risks, such as the chances you have of developing breast cancer, celiac disease, Parkinson’s disease, age-related macular degeneration and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

These results will allow you to make responsible medical decisions, moving forwards – but it’s worth remembering that such tests don’t diagnose you with any health conditions. Discuss the results with your doctor or healthcare provider if you would like further advice.

Genetic health risk reports that 23andme provide are:

  • BRCA1/BRCA2 (Selected variants)
  • Age-related macular degeneration – genetic risk for a form of adult-onset vision loss
  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency – genetic risk for lung and liver disease
  • Celiac disease – genetic risk for gluten-related autoimmune disorder
  • G6PD deficiency – genetic risk for a form of anemia
  • Hereditary hemochromatosis (HFE-related) – genetic risk for iron overload
  • Hereditary Thrombophilia – genetic risk for harmful blood clots
  • Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease – genetic risk for a form of dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease – genetic risk for a form of movement impairment

By finding out if you have the selected variants of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene, women can find out if they are at increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, and men can find out if they are at increased risk of developing prostate cancer.

Parkinsons is a condition that affects many elderly people (Picture: iStock by Getty)
What can ancestry DNA tests tell me about carrier status?

Some DNA tests include ‘Carrier Status’ reports, which tell you whether your genome carries disease-causing gene variants. 23andme offers over 40 reports on whether you are a carrier for certain inherited conditions such as cystic fibrosis, hereditary hearing loss and sickle cell anemia.

Carrier status reports that 23andme provide are:

  • Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum with Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease
  • Beta thalassemia and related hemoglobinopathies
  • Bloom syndrome
  • Canavan disease
  • Congenital disorder of glycosylation type 1a
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • D-Bifunctional protein deficiency
  • Dihydrolipoamide dehydrogenase deficiency
  • Familial hyperinsulinism
  • Fanconi anemia group C
  • GRACILE syndrome
  • Gaucher disease type 1
  • Glycogen storage disease type 1a
  • Hereditary fructose intolerance
  • Herlitz Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa
  • Leigh Syndrome
  • Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy type 2D
  • Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy type 2E
  • Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy type 2I
  • MCAD deficiency
  • Maple syrup urine disease type 1B
  • Mucolipidosis type IV
  • Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis
  • Niemann-Pick disease type A
  • Nijmegan breakage syndrome
  • Nonsyndromic hearing loss and deafness, DFNB1
  • Pendred syndrome and DFNB4 hearing loss
  • Phenylketonuria and related disorders
  • Primary hyperoxaluria type 2
  • Rhizomelic chondrodysplasia punctata type 1
  • Salla disease
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Sjogren-Larsson syndrome
  • Tay-Sachs disease
  • Tyrosinemia type 1
  • Usher syndrome
  • Zellweger syndrome spectrum
Can ancestry DNA tests tell me how to achieve a healthy weight?

Many DNA testing companies will provide customers with the option to purchase a kit which analyses their genetics and informs them of how to achieve a healthy weight. For example, HomeDNA identifies your unique genetic makeup and provides diet and exercise tips that are tailored to your genotype.

By analysing the genetic markers influencing weight, recommendations can be given for the best foods to meet your caloric needs, the optimal nutrients and supplements for you and ideal workouts for your healthiest weight.

Ancestry DNA tests can give you advice on managing your weight (Picture: iStock by Getty)
What can ancestry DNA tests tell me about wellness?

DNA kits from providers such as 23andme can inform customers whether they are prone to or affected by:

  • Alcohol flush reaction
  • Caffeine consumption
  • Deep sleep
  • Genetic weight
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Muscle composition
  • Saturated fat and weight
  • Sleep movement
Written by
Imogen Groome
Imogen is editor-in-chief of Hot5. She is also a lifestyle blogger, author and freelance journalist, with particular interests in music, politics, psychic readings and dating. She is usually found at home with her collection of animals, drinking iced tea. Read more.
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