‘Over-the-counter’ Genetic Tests Doing More Harm Than Good

Direct-to-consumer genetic tests are said to predict conditions or unlock valuable information regarding ancestry, personality, body stamina, etc. But scientists warn the consumer that decoding genetics is not easy-peasy. So what can these tests truly reveal to someone?

UK Scientists want to issue a word of warning when it comes to at-home genetic tests available online and in stores for inflicting unnecessary fear and even panic amongst the users.

The author brings into sight the case of a patient that was informed he has a gene variant that could lead to Parkinson’s disease. He was anxious regarding the results and reported that no family member had this condition before. Other patient came to complain of breast cancer results, but professional, detailed genetic tests revealed the scare was in vain.

Anneke Lucassen, the senior author, from the University of Southampton, stated:

Some of the examples we came across were worrying because people were asking about risk-reducing surgery. They thought they were at very high risk, yet such surgery would have been inappropriate.

They Will Never Replace a Doctor Appointment

Unfortunately, these tests are not able to offer reliable answers because they miss the ‘overview’; for example, the onset of a condition also depends on the diseases running in the family. If one is ‘diagnosed’ with a high risk of something by these tests, most probably he won’t develop the disease if he lacks a family history around it.

The majority of direct-to-consumer tests center specific variants in genes and lose out of sight the other ‘facets’ of human DNA.

The presence of a gene responsible for a condition might have a protective ‘counterpart’ that cuts down the chances.

Marketing suggests consumers this is a reliable way of getting in touch with the hidden DNA data.

However, what can these tests do? They can fulfill one’s curiosity by revealing insights into ancestry and mostly, they can be used for entertainment purposes.

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