You don’t have to look far to find someone who has undergone DNA testing, either for medical purposes or simply out of curiosity. But how exactly does DNA testing work, and when should you use it? Here’s everything you need to know.
What Is DNA?
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is genetic material that contains the coding that gives us all life. The building blocks of DNA are abbreviated by the letters A, T, C, and G. DNA is so complex that about 3 billion letter pairs combine to create the DNA code of every living being.
In humans, DNA letter pairs form into tightly coiled strands we call chromosomes. The arrangement of chromosomes and DNA sequences determine everything from your physical characteristics to your body functions.
Why Undergo a DNA Test?
There are many different reasons that you might submit to a DNA test:
- Confirm or eliminate a relationship based on genetics
- Learn more information about your family tree and ancestry
- Identify your specific health risks, like breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and age-related macular degeneration