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Taking a DNA test from the comfort of your own home is something that appeals to many people. Privacy is important when it comes to something as personal as your genetic makeup and ancestry.
What's in this Guide?
- Can You Buy a DNA Test at CVS?
- How Does a DNA Test Kit From CVS Work?
- How Long Does an At-Home DNA Test Take?
- How Much Is a DNA Test at CVS?
- Types of DNA Test Kits at CVS:
- Are Drugstore DNA Tests Accurate?
- Why Buy a DNA Test From a Pharmacy or Drug Store?
- Can You Get a DNA Test While Pregnant?
Disclaimer: Before You Read
It is important to know that your genes are not your destiny. There are various environmental and genetic factors working together to shape you. No matter your genetic makeup, maintain ideal blood pressure and glucose levels, avoid harmful alcohol intake, exercise regularly, get regular sleep. And for goodness sake, don't smoke.
Genetics is a quickly changing topic. Read More...
That's why having access to a variety of test kits locally is a good idea, and CVS pharmacies are there to accommodate your needs.
Can You Buy a DNA Test at CVS?
The short answer here is yes, you can get DNA test kits at CVS. They offer several different kinds of tests including paternity kits, kits to test for health concerns, and of course, ancestry tests.
They stock different brands but do not offer any lab testing services directly. All kits are processed through the companies offering the tests. Please note, these tests are NOT regulated by the FDA, so you do need to research each brand to be sure they are reputable and that they have strict quality processes 1 in place.
How Does a DNA Test Kit From CVS Work?
In general terms, what you are buying at CVS is a collection kit. These include everything you need to take a DNA sample from yourself or someone else (you may need consent forms for some, like a paternity test, for example).
The process involves either spitting saliva into a container or taking a cheek swab from inside the mouth 2.
Once you collect your sample, the kit will contain a shipping envelope or box for you to send your DNA to the testing lab. These are often pre-paid and pre-addressed for your convenience.
Many of the kits require you to register the kit online before they can process it, so it's recommended you do that before sending your sample to them. The lab processes the sample and then releases the results to an online account that you set up.
This ensures your privacy throughout the entire process.
Please note: Each company will have slightly different procedures for its kits. Be sure to read all the directions carefully before you begin. Most will have websites or customer service departments you can reach by phone if you have any questions.
How Long Does an At-Home DNA Test Take?
Here again, each DNA test from CVS will have its own timetable for the entire process. Generally, the collection process takes only a few minutes. Cheek swabs are literally less than a minute.
The time comes from the processing side, and there are many factors that determine how long that takes. Some of these are:
- How long the post office takes to deliver the sample
- The initial registration and processing time
- The time it takes to run the samples
- What you are testing for
Some of the descriptions of the DNA kits available at CVS state that results may be available online in as few as 1 to 2 days for the paternity tests, while others can take up to 6 weeks.
How Much Is a DNA Test at CVS?
Prices for the collection kits for the DNA tests at CVS vary. What's important to remember is that what you are paying for in the store is typically just for the collection kit itself.
In most cases, the processing and lab fees are extra and can be considerably more expensive than the kits. When deciding which one to purchase, be sure to consider all the associated fees.
Please note: the prices listed in this article are as of December 2018 and are subject to change, as is the offered selection.
Types of DNA Test Kits at CVS:
DNA test kits are not a "one size fits all" type of product. There are different kits available depending on what you want to test for.
While the sample collection method may not be that different, the testing is, and that's where the variety in kits stems from. Here are just a few of the types of tests you can find either online at CVS.com or at a local CVS store.
DNA Ancestry Tests
Ancestry exploration is a common reason people choose to have their DNA analyzed, and CVS has two different brands available, HomeDNA and 23andMe.
HomeDNA — This brand offers two different analysis options that use the same cheek swab collection kit ($24.99). Its Starter test (an additional $39 for the lab fee) uses over 100 DNA markers to give you information on your ethnic makeup and where your ancestors came from.
It includes a printable certificate and a report detailing the results.
The Advanced test ($99 lab fee) is more thorough, as you might imagine. It uses over 800,000 autosomal markers as well as more than 1,000 different populations for reference. It can trace your DNA signature and ancestral migration back up to 1,000 years.
23andMe — The collection kit for 23andMe ($29.99) uses a saliva cup collection system kit that you can use for two different levels of testing. The Ancestry Service (with a $69 lab fee), gives you information on your ethnic origins as well as any DNA relatives.
If you chose the 23andMe Health and Ancestry Service ($169), you get the ancestry information as well as more than 75 reports on health matters such as traits, wellness information, carrier status, and any genetic health risks. Some of the items it checks for include:
- Character traits — hair color and style, facial features, and your sense of taste
- Wellness — genetic weight, sleep patterns
- Carrier status — sickle cell, cystic fibrosis
- Genetic health risks — late-onset Alzheimer's, Parkinson's
While home DNA tests are not regulated by the FDA, these reports do meet FDA reporting standards. These reports should be shared with your doctor and not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.
DNA Paternity Tests
At this time, CVS sells only one paternity DNA test ($26.99 plus a lab fee of $139) and it's from HomeDNA (formerly IDENTIGENE). It involves taking a cheek swab sample from the child and from the alleged father.
This is a safe collection method that can even be used on infants. A swab from the mother is preferred but not required. Consent forms may also be needed.
Please note, a standard sample collected this way will not be admissible in court 3. If you need a paternity test for legal reasons, the collection itself must be witnessed, which the company can arrange for an additional fee.
This is an add-on feature to the HomeDNA paternity test available at CVS. Also worth noting, New York State residents require a special test, so be sure you get the right one depending on your location.
Once the sample has reached the lab for processing, results should be available within 1 to 2 days.
DNA Healthy Weight Tests
CVS currently offers three DNA test options to help you with your weight goals. They differ in price and in what they assess.
FiT iQ — This collection kit ($24.99) uses a cheek swab and tests over 20 genetic traits that can help you understand your metabolism and things like why you eat and snack the way you do. Fit iQ can also give you insights into the exercises and diets that might work best for you based on your genetic makeup.
The lab processing fee is $89 and the results take 4 to 6 weeks.
HomeDNA — The Healthy Weight version of the collection kit from HomeDNA ($24.99) lets you swab your cheek to a better you. The testing process ($99) looks at 45 markers and produces a report that offers real tips in terms of which foods you should and shouldn't eat as well as which exercises will be the most beneficial.
The processing takes about 6 weeks and offers a look at how your body reacts to certain foods and nutrients.
ORIG3N — This brand offers a Metabolism DNA analysis ($48.99) using a cheek swab collection method. It is a simplified test looking at eight gene markers that regulate how fat is used in the body.
It can offer ideas on how your body responds to sugars and fats. The testing process takes 2 to 4 weeks and the results are available via email and through the brand's smartphone app. There is no separate lab fee with this test.
DNA Skin Care Tests
Learning more about your propensity for skin issues like dryness, redness, stretch marks, and varicose veins can help you learn to treat your skin proactively. That's where skin DNA tests at CVS come in. There are two brands to choose from.
HomeDNA — With the Skin Care collection kit ($24.99) and subsequent lab analysis ($79) this test will help you understand seven important factors that help determine your skin's quality and health. It looks at things like elasticity, sun protection, collagen levels, and more.
The results can help you determine which aspects of skin health you need to concentrate on and which types of products might be the most helpful. Results are available about 6 weeks after the lab receives your sample.
Skin iQ — This test kit ($24.99) offers you a glimpse into the genetic makeup of your skin. The lab process ($89) takes up to 6 weeks to produce the final report.
This report gives you information on your predisposition to factors like dry skin, puffiness, oxidation, psoriasis, and rosacea. The Skin iQ test uses a cheek swab collection method.
Are Drugstore DNA Tests Accurate?
As with any over-the-counter product with different brands to choose from, the accuracy and quality of the results will vary with different DNA tests.
Always be sure to research the reputation and lab procedures of each brand and take into consideration the reviews written by actual users before making a purchasing decision. Remember that these tests are not regulated by the FDA so companies can claim just about anything in terms of the results.
Why Buy a DNA Test From a Pharmacy or Drug Store?
There are several places to buy at-home DNA tests, but drug stores are popular options because of the convenience factor.
You can easily go in and compare features and lab fees.
There's also a time factor to consider. By purchasing a collection kit in a local store as opposed to ordering one online, you don't have to wait for several days for delivery.
Can You Get a DNA Test While Pregnant?
Taking part in a standard, at-home DNA test like the ones you can buy from CVS, is perfectly safe while you are pregnant.
Many mothers-to-be are curious about their genetic makeup and whether or not they carry the risk of passing down a mutation to their baby. These tests only give the maternal side of the picture and do not test the father or the baby.
A paternity DNA test can be performed before a baby is born but it does require a blood draw from the mother 4, a cheek swab or saliva sample is not sufficient. For this reason, this type of test is not available from retail sellers like CVS.
If you're thinking of having your DNA analyzed for genetic, ethnicity, health or paternity reasons, CVS is one place you can get collection kits locally. They offer a variety of options from different brands and in different price ranges.
You can get them the same day and start the processing as soon as possible.
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National Library of Medicine, U.S Department of Health and Human Services
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- What is noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT) and what disorders can it screen for?
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