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Why A DNA Test Could Change Your Life

October 2017Words by Mr Ahmed Zambarakji

Teacher gives demonstration in a science class, 1960. Photograph by Mr Henry Grant/Mary Evans Picture Library

If the past 10 years have taught us anything about the human genome, it’s that our predispositions are, for the most part, up for grabs. No longer do we have to abide by a fatalistic view of life and dejectedly blame our genes (or, indeed, our parents) for our shortcomings. The woe of a potential illness, an ever-expanding waistline or a particularly unfortunate ageing process is now controllable. In short, if we know our genetic profile, there’s a chance we can take greater responsibility for how things pan out.

By mapping out the 20,000-odd genes in the human genome, we have gained a deeper understanding of how we work as individuals. And since we don’t have the exact same genes switched on at any one time, there can be no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to medication, diet, fitnesswellbeing or even skincare. Forward-thinking direct-to-consumer businesses have picked up on the potential of increasingly affordable and quick DNA testing and are revolutionising the health and cosmetic industries.

Granted, the science is still in its infancy – and far from foolproof – but we are entering an era where customised programmes will help us make better life choices that determine the way in which our genes are expressed. And all that’s required is a simple cheek swab.