Chances are good that you know someone who’s tried a DNA kit. They’ve become very popular in recent years, particularly with those seeking information about where their family originated and what genetic traits they might carry and pass on to their children.
However, these kits can do so much more than merely shedding light on your genetic past. They can be important tools in delving into your physical and mental health, identifying potential diseases, and ensuring that you are able to live a happy, healthy life despite any hurdles your ancestry might throw your way.
Of course, with the increasing popularity of DNA testing, an explosion of testing companies has occurred. How do you determine what the best DNA health kit is for you? Are they all the same?
How do you tell which is better? Really, comparison is the key, but you’ll need to know the factors to compare from kit to kit. We’ll discuss those below.
We’ll start with what is probably the most important thing to compare when choosing between DNA health kits, and that is the stated purpose of the test kit.
You’ll find that even with the top-ranked companies, the purpose is not always the same. For instance, with Ancestry.com’s kit, the only purpose is to help you build a more robust family tree. The same is true with MyHeritage.
Very few companies have health as one of the stated purposes of the test, but there are some that do, such as 23andMe.
With that being said, just because it’s not part of the test’s stated purpose, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have access to health information.
It just means that if you do, it might not be as easily accessible or in-depth as it would from a company that focuses on health and fitness.
Availability of Health and Medical Information
Another critical consideration for anyone comparing DNA health kits with a goal of making informed decisions regarding their physical and mental health is the availability of health and medical information.
How easily can you get access to that data? Once you do have access, how easy is it to understand? Does the company include that information in an easy-to-digest report, or must you share it with your doctor to have it translated into language you can more easily understand?
Note that some companies do not include any form of medical or health testing – My Heritage is a good example of a company that doesn’t offer anything other than ancestry testing. FamilyTreeDNA is another company that focuses exclusively on ancestry, as is LivingDNA.
Accuracy and Depth of Results
You expect the test results you receive to be accurate and in-depth. It’s about being able to make informed decisions regarding your physical and mental health, and avoiding or at least limiting serious potential conditions in the future.
However, not all companies offer the same accuracy or depth. Of course, this can be difficult to quantify, so you’ll need to dig into each company’s offering to really determine what they offer.
It’s also important to gauge customer satisfaction in terms of the company’s health testing capabilities, reporting depth, and overall accuracy.
One thing that might not occur to you when it comes to DNA health kits is the privacy of your information, although it should.
And, while your information falling into the hands of hackers or other bad actors is worrying, what you should really be concerned about is the legal sharing that the testing companies do.
DNA health kit providers routinely share your genetic data, and your health information with:
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Government agencies like the FBI
- Third-party app developers
Consumer Reviews and Satisfaction
The overall satisfaction of customers is a very important metric, particularly when it comes to health testing and not just ancestry testing.
Look beyond the “star” rating and dig into reviews to see what it is that customers are really saying about each company.
Finally, you need to consider the overall cost of the service. This goes beyond the initial sticker price. Some companies charge a subscription fee and will not give you access to all the data collected unless you pay for that subscription.
In the end, DNA health kits can provide you with invaluable insight into potential physical and mental health challenges you may face.
However, not all testing companies are the same. It’s vital to review your options and make an informed decision.