Consumer genetic tests shouldn’t be used to make health decisions, experts warn

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Image: 23andMe

People should not make health decisions based on genetic tests they do at home, experts have warned.

The University of Southampton team, writing in the British Medical Journal, warn results can be unreliable.

The geneticists said the tests could be wrongly reassuring – or lead to unnecessary worry.

23andMe, one of the companies offering tests, said there were “many cases” where results had prompted further checks and preventative treatment.

Prof Anneke Lucassen, president of the British Society for Genetic Medicine and a consultant in clinical genetics at University Hospital Southampton led the research.

She said: “Genetic tests sold online and in shops should absolutely not be used to inform health decisions without further scrutiny.

Related article:  Viewpoint: We need to rebrand the BRCA 'breast cancer' genes to help men understand their own risks

“Finding a ‘health risk’ via these tests often does not mean a person will go on to develop the health problem in question, while ‘reassuring’ results might be unreliable.”

[T]he BMJ paper warns genetic tests often prioritise “breadth over detail”, citing a 23andMe test that checks for a few variants of Brca1 and 2, linked to breast and ovarian cancer risk, when there are actually thousands.

A 23andMe spokesman said its processes were “extremely accurate” and it spelt out exactly what its Brca test looked for.

Read full, original post: Genetic tests: Experts urge caution over home testing

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