Clearing Up the Confusion Around At-Home Genetic Testing Kits

Dec 25


Agatha Singer

Agatha Singer

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At-home genetic testing kits have soared in popularity with impressive speed. In less than a decade since gaining prominence on the market, over 26 million people have already taken those tests, thus contributing to the ever growing database. Note that those numbers come from the reports of only four leading companies in this industry, Ancestry, 23andMe, MyHeritage, and Gene by Gene.


There are well over a dozen companies that provide home DNA testing kits today. Therefore,Clearing Up the Confusion Around At-Home Genetic Testing Kits Articles the actual number of people who have used this service is much bigger, though they have fewer customers. That last fact is extremely important because it brings attention to a vitally important consideration, which is the accuracy of the tests.

The situation in this industry is rather simple, with the way home DNA test kits work, the bigger the company’s database, the higher is the chance for accuracy. This means that if you want to learn something truly useful from taking this test, you need to buy it from one of the companies on the top-list of DNA kits. Otherwise, you are not only running the risk of getting results that are plain wrong. You are also putting your personal data security on the line.

Some of the many companies that specialize in at-home genetic testing can misuse that valuable information. Don’t forget that DNA tests can be used for surveillance, and some companies already allow FBI access to their data.

How Accurate Home DNA Testing Kits Really Are?

The most important thing you need to know about direct-to-consumer genetic testing is that it works on comparisons. This means that the data provided by your test is compared to the data in the company’s database and matches are the results you get.

Now, do you see why with having the largest databases means that the top companies in the industry can provide the most accurate results?

More importantly, you also need to see how this system isn’t perfect and therefore, obtaining completely accurate results are impossible. It’s also important to note that the entire branch of science that tries to unveil the mysteries of the human genome is relatively new. Add to that the fact that companies that provide direct-to-consumer tests use only a limited selection of testing equipment and you’ll see how the information they can provide is limited as well.

However, none of these factors mean that the information you can learn by using an at-home DNA testing kit is completely inaccurate. In regards to ancestry, in particular, these tests are pretty spot on. That level of data acquired from one of the leading providers is definitely good enough to fuel your genealogy project.

It’s also good for having a bit of fun trying to investigate your ancestry. For example, if you struggle choosing your vacation destinations, learning about where your roots might lie can inspire you to visit those places.

However, when it comes to health information some of these tests provide the situation gets a bit more complicated. First of all, they cannot provide any specialized information, like screening for known genetic disorders. Therefore, you cannot use this cheap test kit as a substitute for specialized tests prescribed by your doctor.

The information the tests can provide is based on the same principles as the ancestry testing. This means that it’s compared to the database and if your results match those with obesity, the test might say you are predisposed to this condition.

Therefore, these results give you something to think over. However, you definitely shouldn’t see them as legitimate health recommendations without talking with your doctor first. You can, however, take that information as an early alert if it does seem concerning. In this case, you should take proper medical tests in the hospital. If after that your doctor agrees that there are some legitimate risks, you will be able to start preventative treatments early.

You can also take to heart the recommendations that advise switching to a healthy diet and exercising. Leading a healthy lifestyle is always a smart decision and you shouldn’t even need a DNA test result to make these positive changes.

The Bottom Line: Choose Your At-Home Genetic Testing Kit Well

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing isn’t perfect or highly accurate, but it can provide you with some useful information. It’s also definitely fun to learn some things about yourself and your ancestry.

However, to get results that are useful and reasonably accurate you need to use a kit from one of the top providers in the industry. As the size of the testing company’s database is the most important factor that determines the accuracy of those tests, there is no point of using any that have only a few hundred thousand people’s data or even less. Some of the businesses in this industry will provide you with sham results that have no scientific backing whatsoever. Therefore, reputed companies with years of history are your best and safest bet.