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DNA testing kit results surprise nearly 40% of Americans, new survey reveals

DNA visualized
(Image credit: TopTenReviews)

Whether you're looking to discover more about your genealogy or gain an insight into your family's medical history, DNA testing kits continue to grow in popularity.

According to a new study by the respected Pew Research Center, approximately one-in-seven American adults have used a mail-in DNA testing service – with many admitting they were surprised by what they learnt.

The vast majority of respondents (87%) were using DNA testing kits to trace their family origins, but a significant proportion (36%) were also interested in their family's medical history.

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Who do you think you are?!

The survey reveals that while most people's results roughly lined up with their expectations, a large number of respondents learnt something new through a mail-in DNA test kit. 

Specifically, some 38% of participants were surprised by the country or continent their ancestors came from, while over a quarter (27%) said the results of their test revealed a new family connection or relative.

A further 26% of those surveyed said they were intrigued by the medical information they received. According to this part of the study, women were more likely to be surprised by their family's health history than men (33% vs 19%).

Beware the scam artists

The rise of mail-in DNA test kits isn't without its dangers, however.

For many people, the biggest shock from taking a DNA test is likely to be learning about a new cousin that lives across the country – but there has also been a more worrying wise in Medicare scams related to DNA testing recently.

As a result, those interested in learning more about their genetics should either consult their primary care provider for health-related DNA testing, or order a kit from a reputable brand like 23andMe or AncestryDNA.

A technology journalist with nearly 10 years of experience, James is the former News and Features Editor at Trusted Reviews, and has also served as regional Editor of Lifehacker. His articles have been spotted on sites ranging from The Sun to InStyle, but his true love is shiny things and the story behind them. An avid golfer in his spare time, you'll also regularly catch him hovering over the BBQ listening to Pearl Jam.