DNA testing has been a popular fad and trend within the past few years. By getting your DNA tested, you’re taking a step towards understanding yourself better by learning about your genealogy, ancestors and genetic makeup. People are able to find relatives they didn’t know of, understand their medical predispositions and where they came from in the world.
Although, with all the commotion and excitement, people may not realize the risks associated with DNA testing. Knowing the risks can help you make an informed decision before proceeding with a DNA test. Below is a list of three risks in relation to DNA testing.
The DNA testing industry is rather new to the market. In the past, there wasn’t much demand or affordable technology for DNA testing services, now that has changed radically. As the industry is relatively new, there is a risk that your results won’t be highly accurate. It is important to remember there are limits to what DNA testers can do in terms of technology and theory.
Currently, there isn’t an independent body mandating the processes and standards that DNA testing companies must follow. Instead, DNA testing companies are using whatever methods they think are best which is subject to bias, something that is never ideal in the world of science.
DNA testing is not an exact science either, it relies on inferences, this leads to each company using unique strategies to determine an individual’s ethnicity and genealogy which has an impact on the accuracy of your results.
In addition, DNA testing companies don’t share their data with each other. In fact, don’t be surprised if you receive different results from two separate DNA testing companies. Be sure to analyze your results with skepticism.
Companies offering DNA testing make the bulk of their profits from selling genetic information to other companies desiring access to large genetic databases. More often than not, DNA testing companies are selling genetic databases to pharmaceutical companies who are using human genome data for drug development purposes.
Very few DNA testing companies destroy your original sample, instead it is held onto or sold to another company. You may be wondering, how can DNA testing companies get away with doing this?
What tends to happen is DNA testing companies are sold which eliminates any responsibility the company originally had in relation to your privacy. Before getting your DNA tested, be sure to read and understand the privacy policies, including all loopholes and instances when your privacy rights will be waived. Of course, this is easier said than done which is what DNA testing companies bank on.
Other privacy risks of DNA testing include sharing of genetic data with law enforcement and databases being hacked. Once you give up your personal genetic sample, you have no way of knowing or controlling what will happen to it.
3. Be Prepared For Your Results
The appeal and excitement of DNA testing is finding relatives that you didn’t even know you had. But, this means that other people can find you too, if they’re related. Certain people may not want to be found or contacted by a relative, it is important to consider this before testing your DNA.
It is entirely possible that you will receive shocking results such as unexpected paternity or that you were adopted without your knowledge. Regardless of what might come up in your results, be sure to prepare yourself for unanticipated information.
Another common thing you may find in your DNA test report is health conditions and diseases that you’re predisposed to as a result of your genetic makeup. Some people are comfortable with this information, but for others it can be highly worrisome knowing that you may become very ill and pass away.