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Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing's Red Herring: “Genetic Ancestry” and Personalized Medicine

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Mwenza BlellORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


The growth in the direct-to-consumer genetic testing industry poses a number of challenges for healthcare practice, among a number of other areas of concern. Several companies providing this service send their customers reports including information variously referred to as genetic ethnicity, genetic heritage, biogeographic ancestry, and genetic ancestry. In this article, we argue that such information should not be used in healthcare consultations or to assess health risks. Far from representing a move toward personalized medicine, use of this information poses risks both to patients as individuals and to racialized ethnic groups because of the way it misrepresents human genetic diversity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Blell M, Hunter MA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Frontiers in Medicine

Year: 2019

Volume: 6

Online publication date: 29/03/2019

Acceptance date: 21/02/2019

Date deposited: 29/03/2019

ISSN (electronic): 2296-858X

Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation


DOI: 10.3389/fmed.2019.00048


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Funder referenceFunder name
Newcastle University Academic-Track Fellowship