It’s easier than ever to test your DNA for a variety of genetic factors, including health, ancestry, personality traits, and more. Whereas this groundbreaking technology was used in the past for mostly crime-solving and parental disputes, it is now on its way to becoming a multi-billion-dollar direct-to-consumer business. To get your DNA tested, you just have to sign up to one of the many companies offering these services, provide your DNA sample, and voilà: your results will be ready in a matter of days.
However, how can you know if the results are accurate? Does anyone know? And perhaps most important of all, what should you look for in a Direct-to-Consumer DNA Test company?
Fortunately, a recently published article by ConsumersAdvocate.org sheds light on these matters. Here are our main takeaways:
- There are two main types of test
The most common types of DNA Test Kits are: 1) ancestry reports and, 2) health analyses. While the former is mostly used by people looking to create their own family tree and/or searching for unknown relatives, the latter aim to make a connection between your genetic makeup and certain health conditions and personality traits. Before purchasing any DNA Test Kit, you should know what you want it for.
- DNA health reports are NOT medical diagnoses
The important words in this area are “may” and “potential”, as in “a company’s interpretation of your genetic makeup you MAY mean you have the POTENTIAL for developing this or that genetic condition”. Keep in mind that this is relatively new science, meaning that DNA health reports are not 100% accurate (not even close) and should never replace an actual diagnosis by a certified doctor.
- Your information is never 100% protected
Privacy protection is one of the main issues surrounding direct-to-consumer DNA testing. Remember that, in order for the test to work, you’ll have to send a DNA sample via mail so that it can be tested. While some of the best companies make privacy-protection guarantees, the truth is that, once your sample is on the mail, you lose control over what happens to it or who has access to it. The only way to be 100% sure your DNA information is going to be protected is to not take any DNA tests at all.
- You should be skeptical of ancestry results
DNA testing is a nascent science, and its results should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s useful to know that ancestry test results can only be as good as the databases used for sampling. For this reason, you should only look for DNA testing companies with the largest databases available.
- Good DNA Testing companies educate the public
DNA, genetics, and ancestry are complex science-heavy subjects that are frequently misunderstood. For this reason, good DNA testing companies are transparent regarding their processes and make it easy for consumers to understand what their reports actually mean.
If you’re curious about this subject or are ready to get your DNA tested, check out this thorough article by ConsumersAdvocate.org, in which they extensively review the “best” direct-to-consumer DNA Test Kits. You can also check out this video explaining how your DNA is spread out through eight generations.