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10 questions about consumer genetics tests

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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

So-called direct-to-consumer DNA testing companies like 23andMe, Ancestry and Helix advertise the ability to reveal your ancestry, inform you of your health status, and even guide you on how to exercise and eat.

1. What can you learn from a consumer DNA test?

A little bit of saliva can go a long way. The tests are nearly 100 percent accurate when it comes to telling you who you’re related to. DNA is great at identifying familial relationships like parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and even second and third cousins. Beyond that, it gets fuzzy.

4. What if I find out I have a terrible disease?

Genetic tests don’t diagnose disease — they identify whether you have genes that make you at risk of developing one. If you do have a marker for a disease, the probability of actually developing it varies widely.

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7. Could employers or insurers get access to my genetic info?

In 2008, Congress passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or GINA, with the intent of protecting people against health-insurer and employer discrimination based on genetic information. The trouble is, GINA has a lot of loopholes. The law doesn’t apply to life-insurance companies, for example. This means that if you took a consumer DNA test, a life insurer could request that data and make coverage decisions based on the findings.

Read full, original post: DNA Testing Unlocks Secrets But Leaves Footprints

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