Important questions to ask before taking a DNA test
April 1, 2023
The decision to take a DNA test shouldn’t be one that you take lightly. With potential issues ranging from data privacy and security to the reliability of results, you should carefully consider which provider you use.
Here are some of the most important questions to ask, and the FitnessGenes position on each.
1. Is my genetic data ever shared with third parties, such as insurers and pharmaceutical companies?
In our experience, this is the primary concern that consumers have regarding DNA tests - that their data will be used to inform insurance premiums or sold to other companies for a profit.
However, FitnessGenes never shares any of your personal or genetic data with any third parties without your expressed consent.
As a FitnessGenes member, there may be opportunities for you to volunteer your data for academic research. However, in these cases, your data is anonymised and pooled to ensure that there is no way of identifying you.
Our business model has never entertained the sale of customer data and we are solely focused on growing our company and brand through the delivery of genetic reports, recommendations and workout plans.
2. What security measures are in place to protect my personal and genetic data?
FitnessGenes takes the security of your data very seriously. Your personal details (i.e. name, delivery address, email address) and anonymised genetic data are kept on separate secure servers to prevent unauthorised third parties from accessing both simultaneously. Your anonymised genetic data is also encrypted for added security.
Access to this data is restricted to essential FitnessGenes staff and requires two-factor authentication to access. These measures are all in line with the UK Data Protection Act (1998) and EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation.
3. How accurate is the process of analysing my DNA?
The process of identifying your genetic variants used by FitnessGenes is extremely accurate. The laboratory where your sample is analysed is highly accredited, holding ISO 17025 standard for laboratory testing and calibration services and ISO 9001 standard for business processes. It is also fully compliant with Good Laboratory Practice (GLP).
The laboratory is one of Europe’s largest high-throughput genomics facilities. It has analysed 100,000s of DNA samples and has been used in numerous large-scale genetic and medical research projects.
There are multiple quality control checkpoints during the analysis. If a sample fails at any one of these checkpoints, the process is halted and restarted. Results are only delivered when at least 95% of the sample’s genetic variants have been reliably identified.
Beyond the identification of genetic variants, all traits, insights and actions are constructed by our in-house team of researchers who hold relevant PhD, MBBS and MSc qualifications. It is their interpretation of peer-reviewed academic research that forms the results and recommendations that we deliver.
4. Might my results tell me something that I don’t want to know, such as my risk of certain diseases?
While FitnessGenes does analyse your DNA using a genome sequencing panel that includes disease-related genes, the results of these are not included in our reporting.
Our specialism lies in the interpretation of general health and fitness DNA, and not disease susceptibility. Without the provision of proper post-results counselling, we do not believe that it is ethical to include this potentially distressing or harmful information in our range of reports.
Additionally, as we do not analyse genes relating to ancestry or paternity, our results cannot be used to identify and connect potential relatives or confirm parentage.
5. Are your reports and recommendations supported by scientific research?
Yes – our reports are based only on high-quality research that has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals (e.g. Nature Genetics, PLoS Genetics, Cell). These are cited and explained in the accompanying trait articles.
We only analyse those gene variants that demonstrate a significant, robust association with a health or fitness outcome. In this respect, we use data from large-scale systematic reviews and meta-analyses whenever possible.
Similarly, all of our diet, workout, supplement and lifestyle actions are evidence-based and have been demonstrated in high-quality, peer-reviewed studies to be effective in human subjects. Again, whenever possible, our actions are based on data from meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials.
6. Do I have full ownership of my genetic data?
We believe that all members should have full control over their genetic data to do with it as they choose - including sharing it with other providers to uncover additional DNA insights. You can download your complete raw DNA data file from within the FitnessGenes members area at any time.
On the other hand, all members retain the right to be forgotten and have their genetic data destroyed if they so wish. As with downloading your DNA data file, your genetic data can be deleted from within your members’ area without the need to speak to a member of the FitnessGenes team.
If you intend to delete your account, we advise first downloading your raw DNA data file for your own records and use, as you will not be able to access this once your account has been deleted. You will also lose all access to all genetic reports and will not receive any future releases.
For further questions or concerns…
You are also very welcome to send any questions you have regarding our business practices and policies to firstname.lastname@example.org, where a member of the team will get back to you.