Is Your DNA Test Data Accurate and Safe?

Digestive Problems?

Before we get started today, we wanted to let you know about an exciting new event we are sponsoring: the Healthy Gut Experts Summit 2.0.

Healthy Gut Experts Summit 1.0 was an enormous success. In fact, 98.6% of the attendees surveyed said they’d recommend it to their friends and family!

Healthy Gut Experts Summit 2.0 promises to help a lot more people and be even more awesome! It’s a huge online event that is coming up very soon that’s all about how to heal your digestion naturally.

And since we’re sponsoring this event, we got you a free ticket.

(If you are not interested in natural approaches to healing, then this event is not for you.)

This Summit features 25+ hand-selected doctors, health professionals, and other experts from around the world who were picked because of their depth of knowledge, insights, and success.

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If you have any kind of digestive problems — leaky gut, bloating, gas, stomach pain, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, or even digestive diseases — then we recommend you check this out.

Get your free ticket to the Healthy Gut Experts Summit 2.0 now (only available for a limited time).


Now on to today’s Scambusters…

Scientist says DNA testing is a scientific scam: Internet Scambusters #807

Everyone seems to be doing it — buying DNA test kits so they can trace relatives and ancestors.

But some DNA tests may not be accurate because of insufficient comparison data, while they may also be open to hacking of your unique genetic information.

In this week’s issue we’ll explain the problem and what you can do to protect yourself.

Let’s check out today’s…

Is Your DNA Test Data Accurate and Safe?

Have you caught on to the latest craze for taking a DNA test to help you trace your ancestry roots?

For those who don’t know, DNA is the stuff in your cells that carries genetic information about you across the generations.

Everyone’s DNA is unique (except for identical twins or triplets); testing involves analysis of a saliva sample and compares that with hundreds of thousands of others to find near-matches.

If you’re a family tree buff, it’s seriously tempting to have one of these tests because the result shows not only your ethnicity but can also pinpoint other relatives who you may not have identified yet in your research.

For example, one of the Scambusters team was able to fill in some big gaps in his family tree when the test flagged up some possible third and fourth cousins he’d never heard of.

This is all very well, but there are also a couple of issues you need to be aware of before forking out between $75 and $200 to get your results.

First, there’s the question of accuracy. How can you be sure your results are really telling you the truth about your family links?

This is a big bone of contention at the moment.

Last year, the long-running TV investigative show Inside Edition sent the DNA of identical triplets for tests that came back with significantly different results, which they shouldn’t have.

For example, one triplet was said to be 11 percent French and German, while a sister was 22.3 percent.

This may be because the DNA testers use programs called algorithms to make informed, calculated estimates. In the particular case cited above, the testing company later told Inside Edition it had improved its algorithm to become more accurate.

But variations could also be down to poor testing technique, by either the person taking the saliva swab or the company analyzing it. In a worst case scenario, it could simply be an out-and-out scam, returning purely random results.

Also last year, a group of anthropologists led by Deborah Bolnick of the University of Texas went so far as to label DNA testing “a scientific scam” because testers didn’t have enough comparative data from others to justify some of their claims or because historic genetics are so complicated and mixed up that the test can’t deliver reliable information for, say, a couple hundred years ago.

However, the Scambusters researcher was able to confirm that at least some of the results he received were accurate because they provided information about people he already knew he was related to.

Personal Privacy

Another important consideration about DNA testing relates to personal privacy.

Your DNA is your unique marker. Because it identifies you, it could be potentially dangerous for it to fall into the wrong hands.

“It’s the most valuable thing you own,” Peter Pitts of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest recently told an investigator at TV network NBC.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also has issued a warning on this subject.

FTC attorney Lesley Fair says:

“Although most tests require just a swab of the cheek, that tiny sample can disclose the biological building blocks of what makes you you.

“The data can be very enlightening personally, but a major concern for consumers should be who else could have access to information about your heritage and your health.”

Five Key Actions

If you’re considering taking a DNA test, here are five important things you should do:

  1. Work with a reputable testing or genealogical company. Check out their reputation online.
  2. Identify the size of the database. It should run into the hundreds of thousands to be considered worthwhile.
  3. Find out what the company’s privacy policy is. What do they do with your personal data? Don’t buy a kit until you know this.
  4. If you’re offered options on how public or otherwise your data and your profile will be, choose carefully. For instance, do you want it to be available for other family history researchers?
  5. Recognize that your data, wherever it is held on a computer, is potentially hackable. The FTC has already tackled a company that sold DNA testing products but failed to provide reasonable security for the data they collected.

Says the FTC’s Lesley Fair:

“Before deciding to use a DNA test kit, reflect on your personal approach to the risk of unauthorized access that accompanies the use of any online service (or, for that matter, any brick and mortar business) that maintains sensitive information about you.”

DNA testing for consumers and family history fans is still a relatively new product and it makes sense to be wary. After all, once you’ve taken a test and sent away the sample for analysis, you can’t get it back or delete the information it reveals — at least not for now.

Alert of the Week

Staying with the FTC — have you ever bought something that has a sticker that says, “Warranty void if removed”?

It used to be quite common on computer cases and other tech products, usually stuck across joints to stop you from opening up the item.

Well, the Commission says using these stickers is “meaningless and deceptive.”

Under 1975 laws, companies can’t place repair limits on warranties unless they agree to provide warranted parts and services for free or they get a waiver from the FTC!

That’s all for today — we’ll see you next week.