The DNA Dilemma
Marie Claire - UK|June 2019

With millions of us using at-home DNA tests to learn more about our health, Kate Graham investigates the hidden risks of spit-and-send.

Kate Graham

Ava* imagined taking a DNA test would simply be a bit of fun. ‘My boyfriend bought the test for my birthday,’ says the 34-year old. ‘I wanted to find out about my ancestry as well as my health. I didn’t think about it at all once I’d sent my tube of saliva off.’ Two weeks later, a blunt email landed in Ava’s inbox. ‘It said I had two copies of the ApoE4 gene,’ she says. ‘For women of my genetic profile, it means around 80 percent of us are likely to get Alzheimer’s by the age of 75. It was a brutal revelation and I felt panic.’

Ava, who works as a science educator, is one of the 26 million people worldwide to have taken a direct-to-consumer genetic test of some sort. Costs vary, but a typical Health + Ancestry DNA Service from 23andme.com will set you back £149. It’s big business with new research predicting the entire market will be worth £1.9 billion by 2024. According to Branded Research, around 15 percent of British women aged 18 to 45 has taken a test in the last two years alone. One third said they wanted to get health information, the same number were interested in their ancestors, while 21 percent did it ‘for fun’.

And it can be fun. Who wouldn’t want to know what percentage Neanderthal you are or how fast you metabolize caffeine? For £129, DNAFit gives diet and fitness insights into how to pick the best meals and workout for your genetic profile. Orig3n has DNA tests for beauty (to reveal ‘how your skin and hair may look, feel and react to various conditions’), and you can also discover more about your metabolism, such as how your body stores and processes fat, and plan your habits accordingly. On 23andme.com, one happy customer explains how she struggled for years with low energy and stomach pain until her DNA test revealed she could have lactose intolerance. Her doctor confirmed the diagnosis, and eliminating dairy has improved her health and quality of life.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM MARIE CLAIRE - UKView All

Uma Thurman

‘I Managed To Stay In The Business That I Love All My Life, And I Know That’s Not A Given. I Can’t Not Feel Lucky About It, No Matter What The Downsides Can Be’.

8 mins read
Marie Claire - UK
November 2019

Pollution Proof Your Life

From your daily commute to your wood-burning stove, you’re unwittingly inhaling a variety of toxic substances. But you can take action to reduce their impact, reveals Claire Thorp.

5 mins read
Marie Claire - UK
November 2019

We Love Lucy

From a star-making turn in Bohemian Rhapsody to a leading role in sassy new Netflix show The Politician, Lucy Boynton is ready for her close-up. Here, she tells Jane Mulkerrins about her life-changing year.

7 mins read
Marie Claire - UK
November 2019

Human Touch

Connecting with others can have a confidence-boosting effect, support skin health and help you live longer. Here’s why the wonders of physical contact really matter...

3 mins read
Marie Claire - UK
November 2019

Facing The Floods

Photographer Gideon Mendel has spent 12 years capturing the extreme rise in flooding across the globe. Here, he tells Marie Claire about the devastating human impact.

5 mins read
Marie Claire - UK
November 2019

Find Your Solo Space

No matter how many friends, family, kids or partners you have in your life, spending time alone is not just a decadent luxury – it’s essential for well-being and personal growth. Time to put yourself first

5 mins read
Marie Claire - UK
September 2019

'Making People Laugh Is The Greatest Love Of My Life'

Actress and comedian Aisling Bea talks to Sophie Goddard about love, loss and why she’s definitely not the new Fleabag

6 mins read
Marie Claire - UK
September 2019

'Learn How To Please Yourself First' –and Other Sex Tips From Our Mums

Three mothers and daughters explain how talking openly to each other about sex, identity and pleasure has strengthened their relationship and enriched their love lives

9 mins read
Marie Claire - UK
September 2019

Style Spotlight Nicola Glass For Kate Spade New York

You wouldn’t think that a fashion designer would hang out in a surgical theatre, or that she’d find similarities between looking at an X-ray and designing a collection.

5 mins read
Marie Claire - UK
September 2019

Strong Body, Strong Mind

Lifting weights might give you good biceps, but the mental benefits are just as impressive discovers Charlotte Haigh

5 mins read
Marie Claire - UK
September 2019
RELATED STORIES

Home DNA Health Tests

Millions of Americans have swabbed their cheeks to learn about their ancestry; now DIY tests promise to reveal whether you’re at risk for conditions like cancer, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. How reliable are they?

9 mins read
Pilates Style
March - April 2020

Eat Your Way To Better DNA

The field of epigenetics describes how outside factors influence the behavior of our genes, and one of the most powerful outside factors is food. The genes you’re born with are just the beginning. Dietary changes can help your immune system fight off infection, your mitochondria burn body fat, and the cells in your skin and joints produce the collagen that keeps your complexion clear and your joints pain-free.

5 mins read
Natural Solutions
February 2020

Reunited By Science

Millions of people have used commercial DNA tests to trace their family trees. For a few lucky folks, the results have been life-changing, introducing them to relatives they had lost long ago—or never knew existed.

10+ mins read
Reader's Digest US
October 2019

MMA Gives Young Girl A Second Chance On The Court

GSA freshman signs as honorary teammate

3 mins read
The Weekly Packet
10/10/2019

The Lotus Effect - Exploring The Science Of The Shine

THERE HAVE BEEN COUNTLESS TECHNOLOGIES AND INNOVATIONS inspired by the animal kingdom, with the science of emulating nature known as biomimetics. Evolution has perfected natural designs and environmental approaches over hundreds of millions of years, providing chemists, biologists and engineers with a perfect platform to advance modern materials and manufacturing processes. Learning the way of the lotus leaf has revealed remarkable self-cleaning properties resulting from the unique flora’s ultrahydrophobic surface architecture producing water droplets in nearly perfect spherical shape.

8 mins read
Florida Sport Fishing
September/October 2019

Discover Your Roots

DNA testing offers insights into your family tree, but watch out for unintended consequences.

10 mins read
Kiplinger's Personal Finance
November 2019

Your DNA Test May Not Be In The Best Of Hands

Former employees say Orig3n routinely processed contaminated tests, doctored results, and Googled conclusion

6 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
September 16, 2019

One Man, One Engine: Inside An Almost-sterile Assembly Line

The theory behind one person being the caretaker of a single-engine as it rolls down the assembly line is not new. Performance-machine makers have experimented with it from time to time.

3 mins read
Motor Trend
October 2019

Khloe: I Wanna Be Kim's Clone!

Ugly duckling hopes lab magic will conjure up her sister’s beauty

1 min read
Globe
September 9, 2019

Health System Offers Free DNA Tests For 10,000 Floridians

An operator of hospitals and clinics began offering free DNA testing this week to 10,000 Floridians in a partnership with a private genomics company.

2 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #404