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Why are so many people testing their DNA?

One of this year’s hottest new trends can tell you a whole lot about yourself — and it only takes 5 minutes.

Locked inside every single cell in your body is an amazing map of your genetic background: your DNA. Taking a close look at your DNA can provide you with all sorts of fascinating answers about yourself and your family’s past. This is why over 4 million people worldwide have chosen to have their DNA tested. And this number is expected to grow extensively in the coming years. Here’s a glimpse into the DNA craze — and why you may want to jump on board.

What you can learn from your DNA

DNA is the material that passes genetic characteristics from one generation to another. This means you inherit 50% of your DNA from your mother and 50% from your father. Your DNA therefore contains a lot of information about what you’ve inherited from previous generations of your family. Here’s what your DNA can reveal:

Your ethnicity: You inherited your DNA from ancestors who originate from different populations around the world. Each area of the world has its own specific traceable genetic model. Comparing your DNA to these global models can paint a picture of your overall ethnic makeup: the different percentages of your DNA that come from different areas around the world.
New relatives you didn’t even know about: When your DNA is tested, it’s compared to the DNA of other people who have taken a test. If your DNA is found to match, you are likely related. Your DNA results will reveal these newfound relatives so you can get in touch and learn more about your family from each other.
Confirming family relationships: A DNA test can also provide proof that a family relationship is factual. For example: you may be in touch with someone you think could be your cousin. If you really are cousins, your DNA will match in a specific way that indicates a cousin relationship.
How DNA testing works

Step 1: Order your test

DNA tests can be ordered online. They are shipped to your home within a couple of days.

Step 2: Collect and send your sample

Taking the test involves collecting a small sample of DNA from your mouth and mailing it off to the lab for processing. Some tests require you to spit quite a lot of saliva into a vial, while others offer the convenience of a simple cheek swab.

Step 3: Your sample is processed in the lab

Once your sample arrives at the lab, it is processed by both people and robots! The actual analysis is a multi-step process that requires transferring your DNA unto a special chip that can be read by a computer.

Step 4: Review your results

When the lab process is complete, you’ll receive notification and be able to review your results online. You’ll be able to see a breakdown of your ethnic roots and review the list of all the new relatives the test has found for you.

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