Free genetic testing

"Words, words, words . . . I'm so sick of words . . . is that all you blickers can do?" says the learning lady in My Fair Lady. Biologists, specifically geneticists, are often accused of using too many words to explain things. Much of science appears to be jargon--language specific to a science and understood by those "in the know" and oft-quoted without understanding by those "outside".

So, what does the word free mean to you? Without cost, having no monetary requirement, a gimmick, a come-on, what's the catch?

Yesterday, a company called flexSCAN, Inc. announced that it will begin offering comprehensive genetic testing free of charge to anyone visiting the website. I heard about it from another member of geneforum and rushed to check it out. No, I haven't enrolled to get the newsletter or activate the free offer--after all I have not decided what I would do with the results of a genetic test if I did have one--but, I did read the well-written and clear privacy policy. Here's the portion on genetic testing:

geneVIEW Terms and Conditions

Everyone electing for to receive geneVIEW’s free genetic testing is required to accept the following terms and conditions.

Genetic Markers: Some genetic markers, known as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (“SNPs”) may be associated with an increased risk or incidence of various diseases or medical conditions. You understand and acknowledge that the genetic testing provided by geneVIEW does not mean that you will develop a medical condition. For example, your genetic information is simply one factor as to whether an individual will develop any of the indicated health related traits or medical conditions. It is important to understand that there are many factors that influence how your genetic profile will manifest itself in response to influences such as the environment. It is also important to understand that the science of genetics and decoding the information is constantly evolving and may not be complete for any specific trait. In reality, more than one SNP may be associated with a specific disease or trait. As such, the knowledge and understanding of the associations and interactions of various SNPs are constantly improving. Sometimes, SNPs simply are markers that flag a particular genetic potential or involvement. Finally, genetic markers for diseases are known to be tied to ethnicity and as such, may predict a specific outcome for a group but not an individual.

Your Health and Future Risks: Genetic information simply makes a statement about the potential for future health and disease risks. As such, even if the information indicates you have a higher risk, you may never manifest the disease or disorder. Conversely, an indicator for low risk does not mean you will not develop a medical condition. It is important for you to understand that any information that comes from your free geneVIEW genetic test may now or in the future provide you information that is not good news. There is always the possibility that you will receive information that is unwanted, disconcerting, disturbing or frightening. For example, through genetic testing there may be doubt shed on your parents, ancestry or ethnicity.

Not Medical Advice: geneVIEW genetic testing is not a diagnosis and the results are not medical advice. Any concerns that may arise from your geneVIEW genetic test should be discussed with your physician. Regardless of the findings from geneVIEW’s genetic testing, we cannot stress strongly enough that you should not make any changes in your health behavior without first consulting your healthcare professional.

Lab Errors: Currently, there is a small and undocumented chance for error from the laboratory decoding process.

Privacy: It is important to understand that your medical, health, lifestyle and genetic information should be kept confidential and only revealed to your personal physician(s). Any information you provide to an insurance company or employer could be used against you. As such, guard this information as carefully as you would your credit cards, social security number and bank information.

Genetic Testing and Data: Our laboratory service providers will simply process the saliva sample you provided in the DNA sample kit. The laboratory’s services are limited to decoding your DNA and will not test your saliva for any diseases or drugs. More importantly, only flexSCAN will have access to your name and identifiable information. All sample kits are optically encoded so the results can be posted to your secure medical records at After conducting the analysis, the laboratory will destroy and discard the sample you provide.

Third Party Access: Unless authorized by you, or by court order only after informing you of the request, flexSCAN will not divulge or distribute any information about you, including but not limited to your genetic testing results, to any third party.


1) You authorize flexSCAN, its agents, laboratories and assignees to perform genetic testing on the saliva sample you provide.

2) You are eighteen (18) years of age or older and have full legal authority and consent to enter into this agreement.

3) You warrant that you are not an employer, insurance company or any third party attempting to derive genetic information about another individual.

4) You understand and acknowledge that the results of genetic testing could reveal results that could be emotionally disturbing.

5) You understand and acknowledge that you are solely responsible for the sharing and distribution of any information stored with flexSCAN, including but not limited to genetic testing.

6) You agree to hold flexSCAN, employees, officers, directors, successors, contractors or assigns harmless for disclosure of information including but not limited to genetic information that is accidentally disclosed, that you elect to disclose or provide access to, regardless of purpose.

7) You understand and acknowledge that genetic testing is not a medical diagnosis that can or should be used to treat a disease or adjust your lifestyle without medical advice. The geneVIEW service is for information purposes only and should be recognized for its educational value.

8) You represent that the saliva sample you provide for genetic testing is yours or on behalf of an individual for whom you have legal authority.

9) You acknowledge that the saliva sample you provide is not subject to any export bans or restrictions.

 10) You understand that flexSCAN shall have sole and complete  discretion as to where and when the genetic testing will be conducted.

If you're considering taking them up on this offer, read, print out, and keep the privacy policy, iincluding the general stuff that precedes the genetic speciality.

Oops, got to go. It's time to go meet my daughter for the opera tonight. More tomorrow. I'll be looking all all those words, as well as the three different names I see so far: geneview, flexSCAN, and wellness360.

Marie Godfrey, PhD


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