Privacy Worries Of DNA Testing
DNA testing – it’s the latest craze for anyone interested in tracing their family history. You buy a kit, swab the inside of your mouth with a cotton bud, send it off to the testing lab, and pretty soon you get a picture of your ethnic and geographical roots. If you do it through one of the genealogy companies, they may even identify relatives you never even knew about.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? But hold on one minute. You’re handing over an important element of personal information. How can you be so sure that the lab or whoever else has access to the results will safeguard it? Or will your privacy be compromised?
As Lesley Fair, a senior attorney with the US Bureau of Consumer Protection recently commented: “Although most tests require just a swab of the cheek, that tiny sample can disclose the biological building blocks of what makes you you. The data can be very enlightening personally, but a major concern for consumers should be who else could have access to information about your heritage and your health.”
If you’re buying a test kit, you owe it to yourself – and to family members who could be affected – to investigate the options thoroughly, she says.
Since there are now several well-known organizations offering the testing service, it’s important to compare the privacy statements of each one — otherwise you could be signing up to an agreement that allows the testing company to sell your DNA data in the future.
Before you check the “accept” box, read their privacy note to learn what the company can do with that data.
“Most testing companies offer an array of options about how public – or how protected – users want to keep their personal information,” says Fair. “Will your profile be available to others online? Can users send you personal messages? A company’s out-of-the-box defaults often aren’t the most private options, so it’s unwise simply to accept a site’s automatic settings.”
A more prudent approach, she adds, is to select more protective options initially and revisit your choices once you’ve become familiar with how the site operates.
Even then, know that once you’ve done the test, your DNA information is always at risk from a data breach.
Dance Your Way To Better Balance
Shall we dance? Seriously. Yes, says a new, European study that has found evidence that dancing could actually be better for older adults than traditional exercise — because it helps us to keep our balance. Plus, learning dance steps is also good for exercising the memory cells in our brains.
Over a period of about 18 months, a group of seniors in Germany, who took weekly dancing lessons were found to have improved their balancing ability, while a group who did regular exercise did not show the same gains.
The dancers also received a boost in the area of the brain linked to learning and memory. Different dance styles were used in twice-weekly sessions, including line dancing, jazz dance, and Latin swing styles.
Of course, it’s perfectly possible that you don’t like dancing or may have mobility issues that would prevent you following this course. The important thing, say the experts, is to do what you enjoy. Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to give up. Even the traditional exercisers made progress with both their health and brain activity.
The message is to do what you like. Just make sure you get moving!
How To Avoid An Expensive Hotel Booking Scam
Now that many of us are booking our vacations and particularly occasional and business hotels online, we’re open to a number of expensive scams.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB), covering both the US and Canada, has taken a lead in trying to highlight and educate travelers to avoid the risk of being scammed.
Here are the BBB’s main tips on booking a room:
- Buy direct: If you can, book your room directly with the hotel.
- Use Reputable Agencies: If you can’t book direct, only buy from a reputable site. Check to see if they’re BBB accredited.
- Plan Ahead: Leaving it till the last minute will narrow your choices. The best deals are available far in advance.
- Check Where You Are: Searching on vague terms like “cheap hotels” could lead you to a scam site. Look for a specific location. Even then, make sure you’re on a genuine site.
- Beware Travel Prizes: Don’t be taken in by emails and phone calls saying you’ve won a free trip or a free stay. Almost certainly you haven’t and will be asked to pay a fee upfront.
- Buy Securely: When you buy anything online and give your credit card details, a secure Internet address always starts with “https”. That “s” is important. If it’s not there, the site is not secure.
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