Ever since 23andMe pioneered the idea of the at-home genetic testing kit a decade ago, the idea that you can spit into a tube, mail it out somewhere, and find out what your genetic code is — and what that means for your past, future, and present — has gone virtually mainstream.
Yet even though we can test ourselves from the comfort of our own couch, what do these tests tell us? Business Insider chatted with Robert Klitzman, Director of the Master of Science in Bioethics program at the School of Professional Studies, to get the scoop. According to him, at-home genetic testing is a relatively new phenomenon, and so far, there’s no thorough evidentiary coverage regarding what over 1,000 genetics tests can tell their consumers.
With the exception of a few diseases that have direct links to genetic mutations, most disease and illnesses are more complex than what a genetics test can find. Most genetic mutations don’t have a direct correlation with illness; rather, they specify that there is a possibility. Other traits are the result of over 100 different genetic combinations, and they can’t be simplified. Genetic factors are just one part of the complicated story that people have to tell.