Viewpoint: ‘Astrology-style answers’ show the darker side of consumer genetic tests

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Image: Jenn Liv for NPR

[T]he same thing that drives some people toward astrology drives others toward mail-in test kits: People want to learn more about themselves and make sense of why they are the way they are. Your life might be fine, but perhaps it could be better if you understand yourself on a deeper level.

Take, for instance, the claim that a genetic analysis can help suggest diets and exercises tailored for your body. On its face, this seems plausible, but there isn’t yet strong evidence linking genetics and any kind of personalized health plan. Certainly, it can’t hurt to know what genes you have, but will knowing actually yield actionable results? When the Verge’s Angela Chen tried one such test, she concluded that it was “unlikely to do major harm, but it’s unlikely to help either.” She, too, found a parallel between her results and astrology, calling our DNA “the original birth charts.”

Disappointment is one thing, but the darker side of these tests is when a company overpromises their tests’ diagnostic abilities, providing an avenue for people to seek astrology-style answers to questions that really should be addressed by live medical experts.

Read full, original post: DNA in Retrograde

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