20 May 2019

MyHeritage DNA announces Health + Ancestry test

There's a new tab on its website as International Isreal-based MyHeritage just announced the launch of a health service based on DNA results.
According to the company news release "The MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test provides health reports that show users their risk of developing or carrying genetic conditions. Reports include conditions where specific genes contribute to the risk, such as hereditary breast cancer, late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and late-onset Parkinson’s disease; conditions associated with multiple genes, such as heart disease, and type 2 diabetes; and carrier status reports on conditions that can be passed down from a couple to their children, such as Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis. In total, the test covers 11 Genetic Risk Reports, including hereditary breast cancer (BRCA) report that tests 10 pathogenic variants; 3 Polygenic Risk Reports; and 15 Carrier Status Reports."

Recognizing recent concerns on privacy, the company states "All health data is protected by state-of-the-art encryption. Health report data is secured using additional password protection and is so secure that even MyHeritage employees cannot access it. MyHeritage has never licensed or sold user data and has committed to never do so without obtaining explicit user consent. MyHeritage is the only consumer DNA company that has pledged to never sell data to insurance companies. It also applies a strict policy to prohibit the use of its DNA services by law enforcement agencies."

One part of the announcement I didn't understand is " ... all users are required to complete a personal and family health history questionnaire, to ensure that each user receives the reports appropriate for them." Why would such intrusive information be required? Surely the DNA test is sufficient, including having the ethnicity report to ensure that the health information is based on a comparable population; polygenic risk reports for heart disease, breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes are only available for people who are of mainly European ancestry. Is the company planning to do its own health research?

You can order the Health + Ancestry kit for $199 (US) + shipping. Users who have already purchased a MyHeritage DNA test for ethnicity and genealogy matching can upgrade to receive health reports for $120.

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