FDA gives '23andME' the green light for genetic health tests

DNA testing kits are popular with consumers digging into their past but now some people are using them to look into the future and mapping out their genetic health.

"23 and me" now has more than five million people in their database and no signs of slowing down as they get new approval from the FDA for genetic health tests for disease cancer.

Emily Conley is the Vice President of Development for "23 and me.”

“We've been able to show to the FDA that people could understand this info. That was part of the authorization process."

In this case, the approved test looks for hereditary colorectal cancer but you can also use "23 and me" to test for genetic risks linked with breast cancer.

Conley says “23 and me” stands by the tests and insists it is not a substitute for a doctor's visit.

“We have significant disclaimers when people download that raw data that the data is processed in a different way. We're not standing by any interpretation of that info. But people are taking that and getting these third party interpretations of it and that's where the confusion lies.”

A recent study by the American College of Medical Genetics revealed a 40 percent false positive rate in the results from direct-to-consumer genetic tests. There's also the risk of misinterpretation.

Doctor Jamin Brahmbhatt, who specializes in men's health at South Lake Hospital in Clermont says it's important to understand what this cancer test does not identify.

“Lets say you get the test and it comes back negative. It doesn’t mean you're not going to get colon cancer. So it’s information that's just there.”

Dr. Brahmbhatt says the best approach is seeing your physician at least once a year and only using the genetic testing information as a conversation starter with a health professional.