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Is Football in Your DNA?

In a giveaway sponsored by genome testing company Orig3n, the Baltimore Ravens football team will distribute free DNA testing kits to their fans at the team's home opener against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday, reports the Baltimore Sun.

Fans who choose to participate will swab their cheeks and return their samples to bins inside the stadiums. They can register with Orig3n online to get their results, the Sun says. The test is for four genes, including ACTN3, which the firm says can provide information on whether a person is likely to have better performance in "power and sprint activities," the paper adds. The company will also test for a gene it says can help predict increased risk of low levels of vitamin D.

The company says all results will be encrypted and sent to customers through a smartphone app. 

The idea is generating some controversy, though, the Sun says.

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing "can be very useful but in many other cases we just don't know enough," Alan Shuldiner, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, tells the paper. "I think it can be very deceptive. I sometimes call it 'snake oil genomics.'" He adds that a promotion like the one the Ravens are doing could feed into the "thirst" the public has for theor genetic information without really telling people what the information means. 

"A Ravens fan could get a genetic test and results show you've got this gene that says you are more likely to have good Vitamin D levels. The person will be mis-served, and think he has a gene that protects him from that," Shuldiner tells the Sun.

Orig3n says its tests provide insights tests can provide valuable insight. "DNA technology is very new," Orig3n Founder and COO Kate Blanchard tells the Sun. She called DNA "one of many important things you can know about yourself, no different than a scale to measure your weight or a cuff to measure your blood pressure."