To create your family tree or to help fill in gaps to find relatives you don’t know about, you might be tempted to try out a home DNA test. Sometimes the main goal is to learn more about the past and expand knowledge of family history. Other times, a person wants to take a DNA test to learn about potential medical problems, or to help verify whether someone is the biological parent of a child.
Today, all people need to do is give a sample of their DNA (such as a from a cheek swab, a hair or a small amount of blood) in a home DNA test and then put it in the mail to a testing company. But there is some cause for concern. Here are five reasons to be careful of home DNA tests.
1.What Rights Are You Signing Away?
If you don’t have the time or cash to hire a lawyer to analyze the paperwork you have to sign before taking the home DNA test, you might be giving away rights to your confidential information. Who knows what this data might be used for? Police have trawled DNA databases to find relatives of criminals, for example, which you might not want to be involved in against your informed consent or wishes.
2. How Accurate Are the Nationalities in the Database?
If you were hoping to learn the original countries where your ancestors came from, make sure that you double-check with the home DNA kit’s manufacturer about how accurate the results are. It might not have very many members of your racial group, for example, leading to poor results in the genetics report about who was in your family many generations ago.
3. Insurance Companies Might Harvest Data to Deny Coverage
Insurance companies that want to deny coverage based on “pre-existing conditions,” genetic mutations or other indications of the potential for future disease will be tempted to access home DNA kit test results to avoid giving coverage to those people they deem to be at high risk and more expensive for them to cover.
4. Pharmaceutical Companies Could Buy Your Information for Marketing
With pharmaceutical companies taking to the airwaves to advertise drugs that they want you to ask your doctor about, it makes sense that they’d want to trawl the DNA databases developed from home test kits. Then, they would use the information from your genes to try to sell you medications to address a potential disease you are at risk for contracting.
5. Criminal Hackers May Break in and Steal Your Sensitive Data
The information in your DNA scan is intensely personal and you will want to keep it safe. If you can’t verify that the DNA test company is following industry best practices to safeguard your test results, you would be better off avoiding that organization.
A Home DNA Test in Your Future?
Deciding whether to get a home DNA test is a personal matter that you will want to give careful consideration to before ordering one for you or members of your family to take. You might be surprised or disappointed about the results, or you might find yourself wondering what is happening to the data that you provided.
In some cases, you might also become suspicious about how accurate the results really are. It underscores the importance of doing research and product comparisons before taking the plunge and trying a home DNA kit yourself.