The case of Henrietta Lacks provides a cautionary tale for those who willingly give up their DNA for genealogy tests, lawyers say. (Lacks’s tumor cells were taken without her permission, before federal regulations required patient consent.)
With TV shows like “Who Do you Think You Are?” becoming more popular, thousands of Americans are sending swabs of their DNA to genealogy companies to find out where their ancestors came from. What they may not realize: They are potentially handing over medical secrets of their grandparents and future grandchildren, says Erin Murphy, professor of law at New York University School of Law. “These companies operate in a legal gray area,” she says. “They’re not quite doctors, and they’re not quite medical-testing facilities.”
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