LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - It's estimated that more than 26 million people have taken an at home ancestry test.
And with millions more purchased on Black Friday, there could be one for you waiting under the tree.
Dr. Simon Williams is an Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. He is also a Geneticist who teaches genetics to medical students.
He says it’s one thing to be curious about your ancestors, but he is concerned about a test kit that reveals your family’s *health history. Dr. Williams says, “It shouldn’t just be, ‘oh, this is a cool birthday or Christmas present I could get for someone.’ You know, you can go into a local pharmacy and pick up a kit and spit in a tube and send it off.”
He says it is important to remember that when you learn something about your own genetic identity, you are also learning something about your siblings, your children and your parents.
That’s why Dr. Williams says, "Make sure people talk about it because there may be family members who have more concerns versus others, and when you do a genetic test on yourself, you do learn something about the risks of others.”
So, if you discover something scary from a DNA at home kit, Dr. Williams says remember that much of the health related information is still not completely accurate.
So what next?
He says if you are concerned about what you learn, you should go to a professional to understand if there really is a risk.
Randy Christian is a Lubbock City Councilman who has learned the reason for face to face genetic counseling. In fact, he believes it has saved his life, understanding the DNA in his family chemistry.
And that is what we are going to look at next time.