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Top 5 Misconceptions About DNA Testing

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 10:31 AM
Friday, April 9, 2010

By Groshan Fabiola

An increase in stories in the media about many uses for DNA tests has caught the public attention in a big way.  DNA testing is big business, in many fields. Programs like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Heroes and even popular soap opera’s regularly feature DNA tests as the basis for their often thrilling story lines.  While these television shows are informative in many cases they also encourage many misconceptions about DNA testing, in addition the public seems to believe that DNA testing can fix a variety of life’s problems.  The real miracle stories are far less talked about and even more amazing than TV dramas and soap operas can convey.

So what are some of the most common misconceptions about DNA testing?

1.You need a blood sample to have a DNA test done

DNA testing has come a long way in the past few years.  Gone are the days of waiting weeks for results after having to bring family members into the hospital or laboratory for testing.  Laboratories have become so advanced that they can use swabs from the inside of the mouth, dirty ear buds and fingernail or toe nail clippings to complete sophisticated and highly accurate DNA tests.  Most DNA tests are done through painless swabs on the inside of the cheek.  These swabs have the exact same DNA as blood cell and are easy to obtain and transport.

2.Every DNA test ends in bad news

In TV programs, DNA tests always end in disaster.  Families split up, people are sent to jail and lives are ruined.  In reality, DNA tests have many positive outcomes.  The peace of mind that comes with a favorable DNA test is immeasurable for many families.  It’s often as simple as court-enforced maintenance money for a struggling single mom or as complex as finding the true birth parents of a baby that was switched at birth.  Often DNA testing is required for Immigration and assists many families in reuniting in a new home.

3.A DNA test can determine your chances of getting certain diseases like cancer

There are some companies specialize in determining risk factors for various diseases. Depending on where you are in the world, your General Practitioner should be able to organize tests that can show your predisposition to breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease.  What action you decide to take after receiving this information is entirely up to you.  Some women who test positive for the breast cancer marker opt to have preventative mastectomies to eliminate their chances of suffering later in life.  Not all DNA testing companies can assist you with this type of testing.

4.DNA test results can clear the wrongly accused

DNA tests have been used to prove guilt or innocence in a variety of situations all over the world.  If you are having DNA tests done to clear your name for a crime or paternity case, you need to go through certain legitimate channels.  While this might mean spending a little more money to go through the proper channels, to have official proof is invaluable.  There are many situations where someone wants to test an object to determine guilt or innocence but if a strict chain of custody was not followed the DNA testing company can only provide you with answers not documentation that can be used in court.

5.It’s difficult/ expensive/ time consuming to get a DNA test done

It’s not difficult at all!  It is possible to get highly affordable DNA tests done, from the comfort of your home.  A simple Internet search reveals the most popular private companies for fast, cheap DNA tests.  Your family doctor or a quick internet search can refer you to the nearest pathology testing lab capable of producing results that are admissible in court should you require it.  As long as you are well informed about your options DNA testing can be easy, quick and affordable.

Why Cheap DNA Tests can be good to be true:

Oftentimes, a cheap or inexpensive DNA Test is purchased over the internet in the hopes of getting a deal and saving money. However, the old saying is true, “You get what you pay for.” Don’t be fooled by companies that promise to offer you a cheap or free DNA or Paternity test. In many cases, the quality of the test is substandard and is not guaranteed, or the lab is not fully accredited. In one $89 case, although the lab is accredited, the work is performed by students at a University as part of their course work.

Also, companies will advertise a “FREE DNA TEST”, which only means that they will send they supplies to you for free, but you still need to pay for the test.

The chemical cost for a true accredited lab to run a standard DNA test is around $90. This does not include, administrative fees and overhead such as: collection supplies, postage, possible additional necessary chemicals, equipment and maintenance fees, qualified lab techs and PhDs. It has been stated that cheap labs have less accreditation and less experience thereby increasing the chance of error in their testing.

The decision to have a DNA Test should not be taken lightly, as the results can affect the rest of your life. Make sure you choose a quality test and an upstanding, highly accredited company that will guarantee their work.

DNA testing has opened a Pandora’s box for all kinds of applications.  And the many fantastic secrets that the Human Genome Project has promised to reveal are only slowly starting to come to light.  In the future, DNA tests might be able to reveal your predisposition to mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.  Scientists might even be able to isolate the gene that breeds serial killers or rapists.  Who knows, one day we might be able to get a full future health reading from the material contained in a simple cheek swab!  The possibilities are endless!

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