A recent Michigan Attorney General's newsletter addressed the issue of DNA home testing. The commercials for these home testing services illustrate the wonders of understanding your ancestry or discovering something new and exciting about your lineage. However, there are potentially negative repercussions of using a DNA home test that you'll want to consider before sending off your sample.
The article warns consumers that the "real" business of some testing companies is to sell the data they receive. Consumers using these services run the risk of losing the privacy of their DNA samples, test results, or personal information if or when that information is sold.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) is a federal law protecting people from genetic discrimination in health insurance and employment. However, the law does not cover discrimination in:
- Life insurance coverage or premiums
- Disability insurance coverage or premiums
- Long-term care insurance coverage or premiums
- Workplaces with fewer than 15 employees
A person who uses a DNA at-home testing service could still be at risk of discrimination in employment and/or insurance if his private genetic information fell into the wrong hands.
Would learning you have ahigher risk for a particular disease frighten you or influence your future lifestyle choices? While an at-home test cannot predict a person's overall risk of developing a certain disease or condition, could your results cause you to undergo preventative surgeries or unnecessary screening due to your fear? These at-home testing services don't include any post-testing counseling or treatment decisions, so consider how you will handle the information your test may reveal before you send away your sample.
DNA testing is not something to take lightly. Your privacy and peace of mind are precious, so if you decide to use a home testing service, make sure to do your research and choose a reputable provider.
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