Disease-forecast DNA tests 'are a waste of money'

Many genetic tests claiming to predict your chances of developing life-threatening diseases are a waste of money, say experts.

Disease-forecast DNA tests 'are a waste of money'
In the last year there has been an explosion in the availability of such tests, often selling on the Internet for around £500 a time.

The so- called "health horoscopes" offer people a personal assessment of their risk of contracting a range of diseases based on a sample of DNA.

But British experts claim the science behind gene analysis is not sufficiently advanced to provide worthwhile results, with an individual's family history probably providing better data.

Although latest tests claim to check 500,000 genes, so far only a few have been linked to serious diseases. Breast cancer, for example, is the most thoroughly researched with seven genes

linked to the disease. In fact, many more genes will play a part in determining an individual's susceptibility along with environmental and lifestyle factors.

Christine Patch, of the Human Genetics Commission, a Governtoment advisory body, said the public is being put at risk of unnecessary anxiety or even false reassurance.

She said the "worried well" are turning up at NHS clinics with misleading forecasts of their future health provided by genetesting companies. "My message the public is you can buy the tests, but you are wasting your money," she added.

"At the moment, the science is not strong enough to be offering tests of multiple genes.

"I also think there's a risk of false reassurance. If you tell someone they are at low risk of heart disease, that may cause someone to continue drinking alcohol and eating saturated fats."

The commission will issue a report next week calling for a review of a European directive that sets standards in the genetesting industry, saying it is "not fit for purpose".

Currently, most tests are ranked as posing little risk to consumers. But commission members believe this underplays the potential for psychological distress and want tighter controls over testing for incurable diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Daily Mail

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Aralık 2007, 22:02