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
What does genetic testing mean for you?
The 411 on consumer DNA testing
Getting a read on your genes sparks more questions than answers.
What genetic tests really tell you about your health
Tina Hesman Saey compares tests and results from 23andMe, Veritas and Genos.
She Has Her Mother’s Laugh
A review of Carl Zimmer’s exhaustive book on heredity.
A peek into the womb
Ethical and practical issues dog prenatal whole-genome tests.
Risks and riddles
Apps that use raw DNA data to predict disease risk can get it wrong.
Privacy and consumer genetic testing
Ask yourself some questions before signing on.
Skip the telomere testing
Oncologist Mary Armanios says steer clear of this “aging indicator.”
Your ethnic background depends on the DNA test you take.
Ancestry tests reviewed
Companies offer a mixed bag of results on family ties.
Video: What is recombination?
Here’s why there’s a chance you don’t share any DNA with your third cousin.
What genetic testing means for solving crimes
New genetic sleuthing tools helped track down the Golden State Killer suspect
DNA sleuths may have adapted new techniques for identifying John and Jane Does to track down a serial killer suspect.
Genetic sleuthing again IDs a murder suspect in a cold case
The arrest of a second murder suspect with the help of genetic genealogy raises worries that suspicionless searches may be next.
Why using genetic genealogy to solve crimes could pose problems
Rules governing how police can use DNA searches in genealogy databases aren’t clear, raising civil rights and privacy concerns.
Genealogy databases could reveal the identity of most Americans
Keeping your DNA private is getting harder.