Are At-Home Genetic Tests Trustworthy? | Can We Trust It

By: Super Deluxe

Hi, I'm Molly. And I'm Gina. And this is Can We Trust It? Today, we're gonna figure out if we can trust at-home genetic tests. A lot of people, 2 million to be exact, are participating in testing from places like AncestryDNA and 23andMe. So what is it? At-home genetic testing is a cheap test that analyzes your DNA, and tells you about your ancestry, physical characteristics, carrier statuses of diseases, and possible health risks. And all you have to do is order one online, open it up at home, look your roommate directly in the eye, and spit into a tube. So what's good about it? White people think it's fun. A lot of reports can tell you stuff like, where did your ancestors come from? Does your pee smell when you have asparagus? Do you sneeze when you look at the sun? And how many genes did you inherit from Neanderthals? That's definitely my poor Rich.

Gotta shave him every week, he's got a back like an ape. Yeah, but that GEICO ad in the Superbowl, three years ago? Really fabulous stuff. We're still living off it. No, but it's true, many old moms and old dads got with old Neanderthal moms and Neanderthal dads. It was a veritable [BLEEP] fest, as far back as 219,000 years ago. The reports also tell you really useful things about your health, especially if you want a baby. I don't. We know.

Like do you carry recessive genes for genetic disorders like Tay-Sachs disease, Cystic Fibrosis, or Sickle Cell Anemia? Potentially deadly diseases that can be passed down to babies, if both parents have the gene. The test can also tell you about the risk you have to develop diseases in your own life. I'm listening.

Like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, and you can use this information to plan ahead. That doesn't really sound like me. And outsmart insurance companies. I like that. [SOUND] So you find out that you have a risk of developing Alzheimer's. You could potentially use that information to enroll in long-term care insurance before the disease starts to affect you, and before the insurer can turn you away. Because at-home genetic tests are not included in your medical records.

Are At-Home Genetic Tests Trustworthy? | Can We Trust It

So it's up to the patient to divulge that information, which you don't have to do. That's a lot of what's good about this actually. Using the data from their 2 million customers, 23andMe has already published a ton of studies on everything from human empathy, puberty timing, depression, schizophrenia, male pattern baldness, menstrual cramp severity, skin cancer and the likelihood of being a morning person. 2 million people have bought this test? Yes, that's probably why MIT Technology Review named 23andMe the fourth smartest company to work for. Here's my issue, though. I pay to provide them with my data, data they need to complete their dataset to do tests like this. Say I've got some smoking hot, super rare gene they've never even seen seen before.

All of a sudden, they got this info and I got nothing. Shouldn't they be paying me? So that leads us to what's bad about genetic testing. A lot of people are concerned about how the data is being used by these businesses. Cuz they're sharing and selling DNA data, which may up your chance in having your data being hacked. But, a federal law passed in 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HIPAA, allows medical companies to share and sell patient data if and only if it has been anonymized. These companies are largely transparent about where they're sending their data, and have extensive agreements and consent forms. We can voluntarily participate or opt out.

Of course, there's a chance these companies could get hacked, and they can't guarantee your privacy. But even then, your personal information is not attached to the results in your spit tube. So what if it does all go to [BLEEP]? They go broke and sell it, or hack it, who can I trust? So a lot of people are worried about the possibility of this data leaking, and leading to extreme genetic discrimination. Which means treating people, or being treated differently, because a person has or is perceived to have a gene mutation that causes an increase of a risk to an inherited disorder.

In 2008, Congress passed the Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act, or GINA. Yeah. No, GINA. GINA, it's an acronym? [SOUND] G-I-N-A. With an I? With an I.

That doesn't even make any sense. So GINA bars health insurance companies from denying people healthcare, or charging them higher premiums, based on their DNA. And it protects employees from their employers in the same way.

But currently, the law only covers those two areas. Also, there's been an uptick of white nationalists who have taken at-home genetic testing to demonstrate their purity. Even when they get results back that aren't pure, they sort of double down to make excuses why it's okay. Because they look white, or they act white, or they owned a Volvo at one point. Which only furthers the point of the fact that whiteness is a construct that people in power prop up, in order to benefit themselves and exploit others. We all been to Trader Joe's [BLEEP]. So there are definitely people using this data with evil, racist, gross intentions.

But those are awful people, and not the product itself. I'm just impressed white supremacists have disposable income. But the companies aren't perfect either. There's a ton more datasets for white European ancestry groups than nearly any other group included on the report. So they've got some work to do. Yeah, they've got some work to do.

Okay, but how much does it cost? Mara, don't tell me an arm and a leg. [SOUND] This test is gonna run you anywhere from about $60 to $200. $200, how many people I gotta show my tits to to save $200? Show those titties on behalf of your ancestors. Anyway, it's cheaper than a hospital. But people are wondering, is it accurate as proper medical testing? Here's what I found out. 23andMe says that 99.5% of human genes are identical from person to person, with only slight variants here and there. What they do is compare your DNA to their database of 2 million people, and look for specific variants that mark certain characteristics.

And then, they can tell you what they mean. Can you give me an example? Let's ask an expert. I don't date dolls. We still have to finish this interview. [LAUGH] So if you could just try to keep it together.

All right. Cory, could you give us an example of how genetic testing works? So from the user's perspective, what's gonna happen is you're going to receive in the mail a kit that contains a cheek swab. You get some saliva on it, send it back to 23andMe or whoever your provider is. They're going to do some behind the scenes science magic, and then provide you with a report that contains genetic information. How accurate is this? It's pretty accurate. So in the past, 23andMe provided a much more comprehensive report, that included all sorts of data that is no longer included. They now provide you a report that the FDA has determined is very accurate. Do you think it's at all possible that 23andMe was actually started by the studio system, to help with the X-Men franchise? [LAUGH] Just do you think, how possible do you think that is? I think it's a good possibility, actually, yeah.

How many Gucci Manes would I need in a room at one time, to tell which is not the clone? I have no idea what that is. Excellent, so you're not with the government. Next question, what's good about at-home genetic testing? Let's say the test tells you that you're susceptible to certain types of cancer. It obviously can't prevent cancer from happening, but at least you might be able to know, okay, I'm susceptible to breast cancer. And you can start doing at-home tests to make sure that I catch things early on.

And I think that's really useful. Can we trust it? I believe we can trust it. In conclusion. People have criticized their extreme excess of data sets available for white European populations. While other populations, such as African or Asian datasets, are under-represented and categorized in broad strokes.

However, given all the good that can come from it, ranging from taking control of your own health, to staging minor insurance fraud. I would say the positive certainly outweighs the negative, and for that reason, we can trust it. [SOUND] Gina, what do you think? No, I definitely do not trust it.

I've spit on enough tubes in my day, I ain't spitting on no more. I like to keep my business in the sheets, not the streets. I understand that. To me this does seem like a slightly bourgeois version of a pregnancy test, but it's not the privacy or the accuracy that bothers me. So much as, worst-case, one of my white relatives realizes they're one-sixteenth exotic, and I have to hear about our shared experience for the rest of my life.

Exactly, they're a little boring, not like us. I'm 100% Sicilian. I know, girl. So I'm not white. Well. Sicilian. Thank you for watching Human Friends. Remember, Saturday [INAUDIBLE] video.

Tune in every Saturday, starting at 7:00 AM Pacific. Saturday is the day between Friday and Sunday. I hope you found this helpful.

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