Enter a small tube, email it, and wait for the results. That's all you have to do when taking a gene test from 23andMe and Ancestry DNA companies. Health information is a big reason for the rapid growth in gene tests. But watch out: When the DNA report comes back, everything you think you know about you and your family can change immediately.
Katy Canning did not look exactly like her parents. "My mother would tell me when I grew up, and you're part of a native American. You are native Americans, & # 39; & # 39; says documentary Tony Dokoupil.
But when she finally came to a DNA test at home about five years ago, she had much more truth than she expected. She's a part of Jamaica to start, and her husband is not her biological father, but a traveling guitarist of the name Baron Duncan.
"It's crazy, so crazy," Canning said.
And the disclosures were still coming, as Canning learned that Baron Duncan had at least four other children, his half brothers and sisters.
"Did you grow up to think that you were the eldest of two, and are you really the eldest of five?" Dokoupil asked.
"Are they looking like you?"
"So much!" Canning said. "Meet my brother Stephen for the first time, it was like looking at my corner. I literally begin to cry as soon as I saw him."
Canning is one of millions that has turned to domestic DNA tests, and one of many that has had a sense of identity shaken by the results.
23andMe and Ancestry DNA warn customers that they can receive stunning information, but no company offers genetic counseling as part of their standard package.
"People are smart enough and able, they can make sense of it," said Emily Drabant Conley, vice president of business development on 23rd. She believes that customers can treat genetic information, just as they did the results of other home exams.
"People take a pregnancy test at home and if they are positive, they are important information, then they take the next step of talking to a doctor, and we believe that DNA tests are very much in the same way, "said Conley.
Ancestry DNA says that it "takes the potential impact of complex finds … very seriously," and a team is available for people with "more sensitive inquiries."
But DNA tests also raise questions about privacy.
23and I say that it will not share the medical data of customers with third parties unless there is a specific consent to give. The company also says that it uses verification and encryption of two factors to protect genetic results, and it has never been.
But Peter Swire, a privacy expert, said that there would be only one cut that would be hard to install. "If you got your credit card stolen, you can cancel it and get a new credit card in two days," he said. "If your DNA is exposed to the world or the hacker, it's very hard to have a new DNA. It just does not happen."
Dokoupil took his own test, and tried for a surprise ("I'm the only child for unmarried parents who lived in the existence of a wild hippie and shame …"), which never came. "Twenty-six-point-six percent Italian, as expected with a first name like Tony," he said.
However, Canning still works through the meaning of its own results, knowing that it is now Jamaica-American: "That's a strange thing – can I say that? I do not know. Can a DNA test tell me what and what is my identity? I do not know. "
Canning told us that his biological father had died before she was able to meet her, but her mum finally got rid of him (explaining, "It was 80s"). But she & # 39 ; n sure of one thing: his father is his father.
"It does not take care of what the DNA test says: I've been it since the moment I was born," he said. "The family is not just blood, but family is what you do, and your family is a family, and my father is my dad. He will walk down the wings one day. "