Should you get a home genetic test?

Direct-to-consumer tests may help predict risks to your future health. But are they worth the cost and trouble?


Image: © jxfzsy/Getty Images

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic test kits are a popular way to identify a person's ancestral history, but the technology may also reveal whether someone is at risk for specific diseases and conditions, like Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, and even cancer.

"More and more people want to explore their own medical data, and a DTC genetic test is one way to begin to understand some aspects of your future health," says Dr. Robert Green, a medical geneticist at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital and director of the Genomes2People Research Program. "Yet it is important to realize that DTC testing is not the same as genetic testing in a medical context, and is not a comprehensive examination of your DNA."

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »