Espedilla: Queries on mail-in DNA tests

DEAR Dr. Fritz,

Good day to you. I have heard quite a lot these days of mail-in DNA tests. It claims that it can map my family tree. It can also predict chances of my diseases and can cover all other conditions. My elder sister was thinking of getting the test. So, would I still take mine, considering that my sister and I have the same genetic information?

Thanks and more power to you. I do hope to hear from you soon.

Amy Stad


Dear Amy Stad,

I do get a lot of advertisements regarding tracing ancestors and family tree. As a matter of fact, I have been tempted a lot of times to try them. But, I never get to the point of really trying them. It is good though, that I didn’t fall to their persuasive marketing – since, I might learn “facts” about myself that won’t necessarily be true.

Let’s get to your first issue: These tests may predict your chances of diseases. Yes, these tests may seek for information in your genes that would know if you would be likely to get a specific disease, like Alzheimer’s or cancer. The problem is, these tests cannot really tell you, if you would really get them or not. You won’t even get the percentage of your chances of getting them. Even if your genes don’t have them, but, if you have unhealthy lifestyle or habits, you might get the diseases that your genes would say otherwise.

To your second issue: that mail-in DNA tests cover all conditions. Hmmm. This sounds too good to be true. The truth is, while you may get information about certain diseases or conditions, chances are, you might not be able to get the information from diseases that are not so common that you are really concerned about.

To your third issue: you have the same genetic information as your sister. Well, that’s not necessarily true. Every one of us gets 50 percent of our DNA from each of our parent. That means, what is in the other half can be different. So, it’s so possible that you get more of your father’s Filipino DNA and your sister got more of your father’s Chinese DNA. Now, add this mix to your mother’s DNA, and you can expect that things can get scrambled further. This is the reason why sisters and brothers don’t always look like each other. How much more with your DNA?

Now, I would like to tackle an issue which is usually being the point of marketing: mapping the family tree. Again, don’t run into traps. The results only include from the database of those who have been tested by the company you choose. So, what about those who have not been tested? Well, for fun, you can always give it a try.

Hope this helps!

Dr. Fritz

(Dr. Fritz Legarde Espedilla is an aesthetic dermatologist and surgeon and a clinical sexologist. She is also trained in hypnotherapy and Medical Acupuncture. She has been in the broadcast media for more than a decade and has written a book based on her 15 year stint with her radio program, “Healthy is Sexy Secrets ni Dr. Fritz.” She is also a faculty in a College of Pharmacy. For your questions, you may e-mail them to If you don’t wish your letter to be published, we regret that we cannot answer them. Thank you for your understanding.)


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