Promethease is an inexpensive tool for identifying basic health predispositions based on your DNA. Just be sure you use it properly.
At Rootstech 2017 I was sitting at my booth answering questions and hearing about many people’s experiences with genetic genealogy. Then a woman came up to the booth and exclaimed, “You saved my son’s life!”
She went on to explain that she had come across my booth at a previous RootsTech and engaged me in a discussion about using a genetic genealogy test to find out more about a person’s health. I explained that while the focus of these genetic genealogy companies is to further our ancestral research, the DNA that they test does contain some health information.
Many DNA companies now do offer health reports as part of their service, but it comes with a healthy price tag. If you’ve taken an autosomal DNA test for family history, you can use your raw data to find out some interesting personal health information with an inexpensive third-party service: Promethease.
Promethease: Inexpensive DNA health data
The first step is to download your results (called your raw data) from wherever you were tested. We should be the owners of our own genetic data. Save a copy of your raw data to your computer.
To get a glimpse into your own personal health, you can then upload your raw data file at www.promethease.com, pay the modest fee and receive a one-time report. This report will tell you about various aspects of your health including your predisposition to certain diseases and ailments, as well as your likely response or sensitivity to certain drugs.
It is critical to remember that research hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface of the complex way our genetics interact with other factors in order to make our bodies work. So whatever you see on these kinds of reports, take it for what it is: just information, not some kind of crystal ball. If you see something concerning, you may want to consider talking to a genetic counselor. There is also a Facebook group to ask and answer questions about Promethease.
This woman at my booth found out some interesting information on Promethease, then consulted the professionals already involved in her son’s care, ultimately changing the course of his treatment, and she believes, saving his life.
Update: Promethease was acquired in 2019 by MyHeritage, but as of mid-2020, is still available as a third-party tool.
DNA health data and privacy
Whatever you decided to do, please remember that your raw data does contain your own personal information that does identify you uniquely from anyone else on the planet. While you shouldn’t be afraid to try new tools and explore your personal genomics, it is very important to read the privacy information of each company carefully to be sure you know what you are consenting to when you upload your data.
Most companies are fastidious about privacy, but many are also involved in research endeavors, including pharmaceuticals, so please be aware before you upload. For example, the Promethease privacy statement states, “After 24 hours Promethease deletes all information about your raw genome. After 45 days Promethease deletes your Promethease report. At no time is your DNA data shared – or sold – to any external party, period. We also do not sell any products like vitamins or supplements.”
Read more about Promethease on the ISOGG wiki page and pay special attention to blog posts on DNA health data by legal and genetic genealogy experts Judy G. Russell and Blaine Bettinger.
As the genealogists in the family, we are the keepers of many important truths and documents, certainly that includes our important health information.
Lots of DNA Options
When it comes to DNA tests you have options! Promethease is just one of many DNA tests commercially available right now. We’ve put together a review of the best DNA tests for family history to help you in your genealogy journey. Check it out and see which test is best for you!
Best DNA Tests for Family History
Originally published July 2017 on genealogygems.com. Updated in 2019 and 2020 on YourDNAGuide.com.
The most complete test is FULLDNA. I really recommend it. Steven Birnes, CA.