Does the “Best DNA Test” even exist?
It is 2019 and like most people, I want to have deeper genetic insights on my health, fitness and nutrition. A quick search on Google about the “best DNA Testing” kit left me even more curious, with several DNA testing companies making promises to unlock the mysteries of my genes. I am keen to discover the key to living my healthiest life yet.
Indeed, what would make a simple home DNA testing kit the best of the bunch? After several endless hours of combing through different websites, I now have a better understanding of what makes a direct to consumer (DTC) DNA testing kit aka a home DNA test kit the BEST.
To begin, let’s start from the basics. How does simply spitting in a tube or taking an easy swab of your cheek reveal so much information about you?! Well, your Saliva contains thousands of cells, these are made up of DNA responsible for your traits and characteristics. Indifferent individuals, normally occurring variations arise throughout the DNA which are called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs). These variations or glitches within the DNA may also be passed down from a generation to another. SNPs, also called genetic markers, help genetic testing companies identify expressed phenotypes among individuals.
Confused about the word “Phenotype”? Let me explain. Phenotypes are the physical, metabolic and behavioral characteristics which occur because of the interaction between your environment and your genes. These characteristics may manifest as drug responses, health risks, personality traits and fitness prowess amongst others. It is important for genetic testing companies to recognise environmental factors like diet and lifestyle choices that greatly influence the development of a phenotype, before reporting the results back to the end user. Neither genes nor environment acts solely in causing the manifestation of some phenotypes. This element is critical when choosing a home DNA test. DTC DNA tests have been received with backlash from medical practitioners, who consider the context in which these results are reported in as ‘too meagre’, since no consideration to the environmental factors was put in the reporting to how these DNA test results actually influence the person’s health and fitness.
Now that we are familiar with the basics, lets jump right into our list, shall we?
1. Medical Provision: This is very important and tops my list. Sadly, most genetic testing service providers tend to ignore this bit. A genetic testing company should make provisions for your DNA reports to be reviewed by a specialist, who can decode the special interaction between your genes and environment. Like I had said earlier, neither your genes nor environment can independently influence your phenotypes. Having a specialist put this into consideration whilst reviewing your report will ensure you are provided with the best and most up-to-date advice that is tailor made to your body.
2. Database: Speaking of SNP’s, for a genetic testing company to be the cream of the crop, it is important that it has a large database that covers a vast amount of strongly associated SNP’s with the phenotypes it tests for. A genetic testing provider with a large database would provide more accurate findings of its reports compared to as mall data base, of course you should get value for your money.
3. Customer Service: I cannot stress enough on how important this is. This begins from the accessibility of the website from the moment the kit is purchased to creating your personal profile. If it is saddled with unnecessary complications, it becomes tiring to proceed. And if whilst opening an account you experience any form of difficulties, assistance by the company should be one call away. The customer care officer should be genuinely interested in helping you through any difficulties no matter how trivial.
4. Sample Collection: Long gone are the days that required blood involving painful procedures to obtain a DNA sample. With my phobia for needles, I wouldn’t last the entire process without tearing up. Collection of DNA should be as seamless and painless as rubbing the inner parts of your cheek or simply spitting in a vial.
5. Time: Genetic testing takes time. This isn’t your typical home test where the reports are almost instant. From the moment the sample is dispatched to the lab to be analysed and when it finally gets back to you, it may take a little over two weeks to several months. Of course, the wait can be filled with anxiety and restlessness. So, when deciding your genetic testing partner, it may be worthwhile to choose one that promises a short turn-around time.
6. After care: One of the Major concerns I have about genetic testing is the feeling of being left hanging after this barrage of information has been ‘unlocked’. The feeling of helplessness and no medical guidance can be daunting especially if the results vaguely state you’re at risk to developing a disease. I find that having a platform where customers are directly linked to medical specialists or personal trainers, who can appropriately guide and provide advice/support as well as address arising concerns is very comforting. It is important that companies that offer these services provide platforms that engage directly with the customers on a level that makes the customer feel at ease to share their concerns whilst of course protecting their privacy.
7. Privacy: Let’s face it, sharing your DNA is a big deal. It is like exposing the most intimate and intricate details about yourself. A genetic testing company that you can trust to protect your data desperately and not breach privacy policies is key. Sharing your genetic information with a third party without your consent is illegal and should never occur. You should also know that you have a right to not consent to your data being used as part of any form of research.
Taking into consideration the information above, you should be able to find ‘the best DNA’ test that suits you. During my search, I discovered Rightangled Limited. A Cardio-Fitness DNA testing company that literally checked all the boxes and is also backed by NHS England and regulated under the CQC registration as a healthcare provider, which gives you the absolute peace of mind that you’re at the right place. The simplicity of the online platform sets it miles apart from others plus they also provide specialist support and assessments.
Not convinced? See for yourself on their website www.rightangled.co