I bet you know someone who has already used a home DNA kit in hopes of finding out more about their genetic heritage. Goodness knows the television ads are plentiful for companies like 23andMe and Ancestry.com touting their services and the information they provide as a great holiday gift.

Hold the phone, not so fast my friend. Listen to me, we could be related.

To me, there are a couple of issues that need to be addressed or at least considered before you give up your genetic material to be scrutinized by people you don't really know. 

The tests proport to be able to tell your ethnic makeup and genetic background. That they do but they don't really use that much of your genetic sample to arrive at those conclusions. While the results of your DNA query might tell you that you're 80% European just know that conclusion was made using a limited amount of data from the sample you submitted. 

The other issue is privacy. We probably think that once we've submitted our sample and the tests have been run that our DNA is disposed of properly. Well, the truth is it probably wasn't.

In fact, your genetic material and the information it contains may have been sold to another laboratory. Should you choose to participate in one of these tests it would be in your best interest to ask questions about privacy policies and what happens to your sample after you've submitted it for testing.

Just remember these tests offer "results" using only a small segment of your total genetic spectrum. There is a lot of room for error or at least the opportunity for misinformation, especially where medical issues are the concern.

I am certainly not saying a DNA home testing kit is a totally bad idea. I am merely suggesting you take a look at the policy and procedures and privacy protocols of the different companies that provide this kind of service. Find the one that gives you the best peace of mind and go for it.

Choose wisely and read the fine print before you send the genetic code that makes you, you and put it in the hands of strangers. By the way, I was found to be 100% cynical and I didn't even have to submit a DNA sample.

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