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If There's a Gene Kit Among Your Gifts

Time magazine reports that genetic testing kits have found spots on a number of holiday gift guides this year, including one put out by Oprah that includes 23andMe's testing kit. Relatedly, Wired reported earlier this month that sold about 1.5 million genetic testing kits over Black Friday.

But, Time points out that there are few things gift recipients should know. For instance, it notes that direct-to-consumer genetic testing is limited as it only analyzes a subset of genes and that while testing might uncover genetic variants that increase someone's chance of developing, for instance, cancer, that person won't necessarily get the disease. It further notes that testing negative doesn't mean someone won't develop a certain condition.

Still, Time adds people will learn about their ancestry and possibly be connected to biological relatives.

However, Time also notes that people's genetic information might not be as private as they assume. Testing companies often sell de-identified data to pharmaceutical companies, something consumers agree to in their contract with the testing company. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) likewise warned in November that the terms of service of DTC genetic testing companies aren't always clear on what they do with consumers' genetic data and could allow its sale.