Between smartphones, autonomous cars and the internet of things, technology seems to have taken some big leaps lately. Everyday applications of incredibly complex and cutting-edge tech are prevalent now more than ever, and we seem to become more and more familiar with them. The latest trend? Direct-to-consumer DNA testing kits. These home DNA “spit tests” allow you to discover all sorts of things about your genetic make-up and origins. But what do they entail? And what about privacy? DNA testing kits allow you to discover your genes and family origins. But what about privacy? Here’s everything you need to know before you buy a home DNA kit.

Do Your Research

Let’s get it straight right from the start: there are various companies offering different products right now on the market. And each one is slightly different. So if you are interested, you will benefit greatly from reading online reviews of DNA testing kits. Some of these kits are very different in their focus. So before you choose, you need to ask yourself what exactly it is that you hope to learn by taking the test. Some long to discover their connection with a certain relative. Others hope to become more aware with regards to disease risk. Or maybe you’re just looking to reveal your ethnic origins. A testing kit is a quite effortless process, as it typically requires a DNA sample as simple as a bit of your saliva.

Different DNA Testing Kits Tests Answer Different Questions

There are generally three types of DNA tests that you could take, which are common across direct-to-consumer DNA testing kits. The first is the Y-chromosomal DNA test, which examines the 23rd pair of chromosomes that typically determine an individual’s sex. This is only available to genetically male individuals, as they are the ones who possess the Y chromosome and allows them to trace their paternal ancestry. The mitochondrial DNA test, on the other hand, is available to individuals of any sex and allows them to trace their maternal heritage. Finally, the autosomal DNA test traces both parental lines and covers 22 out of the 23 chromosome pairs in our DNA – and as such contains the most information about ourselves.

Medical Laboratory - DNA Test
Photo of a medical laboratory technician by ernestoeslava.

Learn about Your Great-Grandparents’ Migration Patterns or about Your Taste Preferences

Depending on what you would like revealed, there are different tests you could take. AncestryDNA, for example, is a very popular choice among people looking to map out their family tree in more detail and find out more about which parts of the world their ancestors most likely hailed from. It also helps you understand the migration patterns of your ancestors. 23andMe, another popular choice, offers a boosted-up version that allows you to trace your ancestry and get reports on genetic risk. Their health test will tell you if you’re at risk for diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and breast cancer. They also include traits that are more on the fun side, like your sensitivity to asparagus odor, reaction to caffeine, or potential for chin dimples.

DNA Testing Kits & Privacy Concerns

Yet taking a DNA test is not a decision you should take without first considering the major privacy implications. Once your DNA sequencing is out there, you can’t take it back. This could affect both you and close relatives, with whom you share your DNA. So make sure that you read the fine print first and understand the implications before ordering DNA testing kits.

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