Home DNA testing kits may not deliver on promises

Home DNA testing kits may not deliver on promises
Home DNA tests make big promises, but the results aren't so reliable. (Source: Pixabay)

(WWBT) - Home DNA testing kits have become increasingly popular, but are you really getting your money's worth?

If you have a family history of breast cancer or Alzheimer's disease, you may be interested in having your DNA tested to see if you carry the gene mutation that may put you at a higher risk.

A new home test says it can spot them, but other researchers say not so fast.

Companies like 23andMe and DNA Direct sell kits directly to consumers, which allow them to collect DNA samples at home and send those samples in for testing.

Those tests claim to spot mutations responsible for everything from breast cancer to Alzheimer's disease to cystic fibrosis.

People who have these illnesses in their families may like the idea of doing the testing at home, but a new study from diagnostic company Ambry Genetics finds these home DNA tests have a 40 percent false positive rate.

Here's the problem: When your doctor sends you to a clinical lab for testing, the process is far more thorough than the process used for these over-the-counter kits.

And these kits release raw data to consumers, which can easily be misinterpreted. And that could either make you very worried when there's no cause for concern or give you false reassurances when there really is a problem.

If you have any concerns about your family history or risk for certain diseases, your best bet is to talk to your doctor about whether you are good candidate for genetic testing.

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