The Gift of Genetic Tests


I'm always searching for unique Christmas gifts for my family and friends. One year it was maple syrup aged in bourbon barrels. Another was a sampling of mustards. This past year I chose to give ancestry or genetic testing kits. You wanted to prove that your science nerdism is tops in your family, right? No, that's already a known fact!

What the tests can do is tell you your ancestry and some can tell you your potential disease risks. The best known services are Family Tree, Ancestry, and 23 and Me. The testing is typically done using saliva or cheek scrapings. You receive your results by logging onto a password secured online site. And voila ' there you are stripped naked down to your DNA sequence.

The testing identifies your ethnicity of which there among more than three hundred global regions. You can also opt to have them match your DNA to other people in their database. has seven million people while twenty-three-and-me has a million. But they can also link you to billions of historical records.

Aside from your ancestry, you can also learn about your genetic risks for disease. This is important if certain diseases run in your family. It may also reveal whether you're susceptible to certain cancers such as breast or colon.

While having this knowledge can be helpful, it's also fraught with conflict. Some people find it difficult to live with the mental stress of knowing they could develop a genetic disorder or cancer one day. Others can learn shocking truths such as finding a sibling they hadn't known about.

Not only is DNA testing the ultimate paternity test, it's a Pandora's box because we don't know the full implications of the knowledge that's revealed.

More Information

With genetic testing, I gave my parents the gift of divorce
I'm a stem cell and reproductive biologist. I fell in love with biology when I was in high school. It was the realization that every cell in my body has the same genome and DNA, but each cell is different. A stomach cell is not a brain cell is not a skin cell. But they're reading from the same book of instructions. With 23andMe, you get your personal genome book, your story. Unless you have an identical twin somewhere, that genetic makeup is unique to you...

23andMe Test Reveals Disturbing Artificial Insemination Switch
A young women conceived with help from a fertility clinic in Utah in the early 1990s is actually the biological daughter of the former clinic receptionist, genetic testing reveals...