Consumer Genetic Testing

Do the popular DNA tests offer useful information about health risks and heritage?


Direct-to-consumer genetic testing, introduced in 2000, has seen explosive growth in recent years. In 2018, as many people purchased the testing kits as in all previous years combined. Companies such as Ancestry, FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe provide genealogy information to consumers, and 23andMe also analyzes users' genetic risk for 12 diseases and health conditions. But critics say reports produced by the testing companies can be inaccurate, misleading and vulnerable to hacking. Others complain that government oversight is too weak to prevent genetic information from being used to discriminate against consumers or violate the privacy of relatives of people who submit their DNA for testing. Privacy concerns have grown especially acute after law enforcement officials began using some testing companies, such as GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA, to try ...

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