By Liz Connor
Over the past few years, genetic testing has gone from a long and arduous process to a simple at-home task, with off-the-shelf kits offering you detailed insights about your health and ancestry with a simple swab of the cheek.
CircleDNA (circledna.com) claims to be the most comprehensive DNA test yet.
The Premium kit, which costs £499 and is available from superdrug.com, gives you over 500 detailed reports on your health, ranging from your optimum diet and family planning advice, to any medical conditions or diseases you might be predisposed to – like your risk of certain cancers or dementias.
It’s good news for squeamish people, as this kit doesn’t involve drawing blood, unlike others I’ve tried in the past. Instead, CircleDNA uses an easy and painless swab test to conduct a scan of all your protein-coding genes. The test is contained in a simple and compact kit that unfolds to reveal a swab tip and a specimen container.
First, I download the CircleDNA app to register my kit. You’re not allowed to drink, eat, smoke or chew gum for 30 minutes before taking the test, so I take it first thing in the morning.
I remove the swab from the packaging (being extra careful not to touch the tip) and rub it on the inside of my cheek ten times. The pack then instructs me to twist the tip around and repeat.
It’s then a case of popping the swab into the container, breaking the swab stick in half, screwing the cap on and giving the sample a good shake to make sure it’s coated in the clear liquid that’s inside.
Once my sample reaches Circle’s laboratory, I’m told it can take up to 18 working days to receive my results.
The lab uses advanced technology called Whole Exome Sequencing to pull together my results, which it claims has 99.9% accuracy. After around 10 days, I receive an email letting me know that my results are available to view in the app.
The results are split into 20 different categories, ranging from diet and sports performance to early disease detection and drug response.
Scrolling through the diet results, I’m interested to learn that I have normal sensitivity to caffeine and alcohol, but that I’m sensitive to fat and have a higher predisposition to coeliac disease.
The kit can also give you insights into your lactose sensitivity and any nutrients you might be genetically lacking in. Personally, I have higher needs for B12, which makes sense, as blood tests I’ve had in the past have revealed I’m low on this vitamin.
A great feature about the kit is that each result has an in-depth explanation about what it means for your health, plus suggested recommendations for tweaking your lifestyle – like eating more oily fish for B12 deficiency.
The disease section is by far the most stressful part of receiving your results. I’m relieved to find that I have no cancer-causing mutations in my genes, and that I have an average risk of brain conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and bipolar.
However, the results suggest that I do have an elevated risk of COPD (which my mum suffers with), hyperhomocysteinemia, high cholesterol and tooth decay, which might go some way to explain my frequent trips to the dentist.
Interestingly, the results can also tell you whether you carry a genetic condition that you may pass on to your children, which is really handy for me to know for the future.
Rather than scaring people into worrying about their health, the company says they want to empower individuals with insights, so they can take early action and potentially avoid disease later down the line.
Elsewhere, I can also explore my genetic blueprint, with entertaining insights on my personality (apparently I’m confident and calm with a pragmatic mind) and success traits (sadly I only have a normal IQ, but higher levels of creativity).
I was fascinated to read my results and I’ve already made some changes to my lifestyle in keeping with the advice. If you’re someone who likes to feel in control of your health, in one way or another, this testing kit is a great way to feel more informed about your mind and body.