Google "genetic home testing" and you'll be inundated with links to companies that offer to uncover the secrets inside your DNA. What these sites fail to mention is that "there is limited oversight for direct-to-consumer genetic testing," says Judith Benkendorf, M.S., of the American College of Medical Genetics. Last year, the Government Accountability Office sent two sets of cell samples from healthy subjects to four companies. All found plenty of inherited problems, though rarely the same ones -- despite the fact that they were analyzing samples from the same people. Some urged the patients to buy supplements to combat their genetic risks. But when the GAO analyzed the "wonder drugs" recommended on one site, priced at about $1,200 a year, they found that they contained the same ingredients as vitamins that cost $35 a year at any local grocery store.
Still, some people prefer DIY testing for its privacy (your insurance company won't see the results) and convenience. If you decide to test at home, ask whether the company uses labs certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of Medi?care program. Many experts say DNA Direct, the oldest testing company, is the most reputable because it uses certified labs and offers genetic counseling, another must.