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Genetics Expert: Choose your at home test wisely

Posted at 6:19 PM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-25 00:32:45-05

CAPE CORAL, FLA — Where did my ancestors come from? And does cancer run in the family?

They're questions, whose answers may be sitting under your Christmas tree.

We're talking about those popular at-home DNA testing kits.

According to the MIT Technology Review more than 26 million of us have already done them and many more will do them this year.

FOX 4 asked board-certified Genetic Counselor, Dena Goldberg whether her industry approves of the kits or not,

"If you're doing these kits you want to actually think about it before spitting in the tube," she said, "The vast majority of them that you can get, that you can order yourself, are great for ancestry because of the type of technology that's used."

But there are tests that Goldberg says you shouldn't take via an at-home kit.

"Their 'health tests' aren't medical tests," she said.

She says when it comes to those medical kits, they only test for very specific markers within your DNA, which could lead to a "false negative" of sorts.

"If you come up negative on those 'health tests' then that doesn't necessarily mean that you are truly negative. You could still have one of these high-risk syndromes or a condition," Goldberg said.

Goldberg says everyone could benefit from genetic testing of some kind, but she says you should seek out a professional genetic counselor to help you narrow down the kind of testing you need.

She adds that stories like this are proof that it not only works, but can save lives.

"I had patients whose family members tested positive and preemptively had preventative surgeries where they had their uterus and ovaries removed and there were actually several cases where they found cancer within those organs that hadn't yet spread," she said.

If you're worried about the cost, Goldberg says there's a good chance your insurance may cover some or part of the testing and counseling. There's also financial aid available if you need more help.

You can visit her website "Dena DNA" for more information about genetic testing and counseling.