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You’ve heard of DNA testing, but do you know that the results can sometimes be devastating?

Discovering one’s lineage is no longer reserved for hardcore family ancestry fanatics. Everyday people are now spitting into a tube, sending it off for testing and anxiously waiting to find out whether Grandma was telling the truth about that Viking DNA. The problem is, sometimes the results can be shocking and sadly, damaging for families.

DNA Ancestry Test

What is DNA Testing Exactly?

Using a person’s saliva, providers like Ancestry and 23andMe are able to survey a person’s entire genome at over 700,000 locations. They are able to take parts of your DNA and match them to different areas around the world and determine what percentage of each ethnicity make up you as a person. So, even if you’re certain you are 100% Anglo-Saxon, chances are you have a bit of Eastern Europe or Iberian somewhere in your lineage.

Depending on who you send your saliva off to, you can also find out what haplogroup you belong to. Basically, everyone has common ancestors if you look way, way, waaayy back in your lineage. This is what determines your haplogroup, and where your ancestors ended up after leaving Africa. Most people with European (or Anglo-Saxon) DNA can be classified as being part of Haplogroup H.

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The Risks of DNA Testing

In case you missed it, a prolific serial killer, dubbed the Golden State Killer was nabbed by the police after more than 40 years thanks, in part, to a genealogy site. Basically, investigators had DNA from a crime scene that they were able to match to relatives of the suspect by using online DNA databases. While this is an incredible accomplishment, it does raise other questions, mainly, privacy surrounding your DNA once it’s uploaded into a database.

Since they are a relatively new technology, ancestry DNA companies are constantly tweaking their privacy policies and updating them, usually without users being aware. Hacking is the number one concern for users, and while it’s not just a DNA database issue, the fact that they have access to sensitive, personal information can be worrying for consumers.

Another, probably more stress inducing issue is that DNA testing can throw up unexpected family issues. Oh, did you not want to know that the guy that raised you isn’t in fact your biological father? Oops sorry about that. It’s happening more often than you think, people excitedly send off their samples only to find out that their identity is completely changed thanks to a little bit of saliva. Family secrets that have been kept hidden for decades are suddenly unavoidable, is it worth the risk?

What do you think LiveTribers? Would you like to find out more about your family history?

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2 Comments

  • I was thinking of getting myself tested but then I thought… nah… I couldn’t care less. the past is the past so… what would benefit me knowing if I’m part of the royalty of Zimbabwe or of England? What benefit if I’m just a Native American or have Aboriginal ancestry? It’s all in the past, and I’ll leave it there. There are Jews of many colors and cultural backgrounds… so as long as I’m human (and I don’t think I need testing on that), I think I can leave in peace.

  • Anne Domingo says:

    For me, its purely academic curiousity. Perhaps, for some it can be downright depressing to know you belong into a certain ethnic group or you came from this or that location. So what? You are what you are. You are not what your ancestors did in the past or wherever they came from.

    Well, as for the privacy part, if, I am going to send a sample of my DNA to that company, I have to ensure first how my sample would be processed and disposed and who out there have access to it. If I find the process very satisfactory, I would certainly utilize that company.

    As of the moment though, its not really my priority to discover my heritage.

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