Special report: Genetic testing goes mainstream

Consumers are jumping on the genetic testing bandwagon. Many don't know what's in store

illustration of person holding DNA

DNA DELUGE Consumer genetic tests may not tell customers that much about themselves. Science News delves into these tests in a multipart series.

Daniel Hertzberg

In a months-long investigation of consumer genetic testing, molecular biology senior writer Tina Hesman Saey sent a cheek swab or spit sample to eight companies. Once her results were in, she talked to genetics researchers and people who received life-changing news based on their DNA.

In this multipart package, Saey explores what you can expect to learn from consumer genetic testing and she reviews her experiences with companies that offer health-focused and ancestry-based readouts. Tina’s takeaways? Answers aren’t simple, boring is not bad and she just might have a little bit of Italian in her.

Other Science News staff members round out this package, taking a close look at genetic privacy policies, the usefulness of prenatal genome testing and the risks of direct-to-consumer telomere testing, which is promoted as a way to learn how fast you’re aging. Finally, a video explainer on DNA recombination shows how heredity works. — Cori Vanchieri

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