How to Protect Yourself Before Taking a Home DNA Test

Keep your genetic information out of the wrong hands.

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At-home DNA tests offer a convenient and relatively easy way to learn more information about yourself, such as your ancestry, ethnicity, heritage, family history, and predispositions for health conditions. Despite their rise in popularity, however, experts have raised concerns about privacy and the reliability of simplified genetic tests, among other concerns. Before you swab your cheek, spit into a test tube, and decide to get your own DNA tested, consider these tips from bioethicist Dr. Jennifer Miller and investigative correspondent Mara Schiavocampo to safeguard your genetic information and minimize the likelihood that your information gets stolen, sold, tampered, or inappropriately used.


Check the Opt-Out Option

Bioethicist Dr. Jennifer Miller, an assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine, recommends opting out of selling your DNA and genetic information to third-party companies. Read the fine print of any and all related paperwork and documents that accompany your at-home DNA test. Look for an opt-out box on any forms you sign or make the request to opt-out if there is no clear option available. In some cases, opting out of sharing your information may not cover internal information sharing within companies and their affiliates. Review the privacy policies and additional information before purchases an at-home DNA test to ensure you agree to company practices.

Choose a U.S. Lab

Laboratories based in the United States are subject to higher standards and can be safer, more secure, and more up-to-date than laboratories overseas. Labs outside the country may not be well-regulated and it may be harder to hold any operations accountable if they were not done within U.S. borders. Make sure you do your research on company websites extensively before making a decision about consenting to forms and sending out your genetic information.

Ask to Destroy Your Genetic Sample

You can request that any genetic sample you send to a company be destroyed. Some companies may also destroy the accompanying data from the genetic sample.

Related: 

How Learning Your Family History Can Save Your Health

How Aging Affects Your DNA

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