Consumer News

Crackdown On Home Genetic Testing Kits Called By Senior Doctors

Consumer genetic tests have always had bold claims when it comes to their effects and what they can do to our bodies. Most of the time, they’re harmless by simply providing health information and ancestry data. But when push comes to shove, some of these health claims can actually be very harmful.

Such is the case that happened recently, when numerous patients have been wrongly told by consumer genetic tests that they are carrying dangerous mutations, ones that are linked to devastating conditions like cancer. As a direct result, senior doctors have now called for a crackdown on the mentioned consumer tests.

Bold claims

Recently, an influx of women have been informed that they have BRCA genes that are faulty, according to companies responsible for genetic consumer tests. Having faulty BRCA genes usually convey that you have a high risk of developing either breast or ovarian cancer, which are among the most common cancer types for women. There’s even a case where one patient almost underwent a breast-removal surgery after such an event happened. Thankfully, the surgery was called after NHS laboratory proved that the results from the consumer test was negative.

“The NHS is incredibly irritated by these results because [in the case of BRCA] they’re more often wrong than right,” said Prof Anneke Lucassen, a clinical geneticist at Southampton University and chair of the British Society for Genetic Medicine. According to her, it has gotten incredibly worse, especially for the NHS, since they’re the ones that have to carry the burden of proving that most of the results from these tests are flawed or just plain false.

“I’m not saying ban these tests, but they need more regulating,” she added. Furthermore, she believes this is just the tip of the iceberg, and that there is a bigger problem lying underneath. She herself is aware of around 10 cases of patients visiting genetics services after being told by consumer tests that they’re positive for something.

Generic tests

Per data, consumer genetic tests have grown in popularity throughout the years, with them being convenient and cheap alternatives. Usually, some, like AncestryDNA and 23andMe, offer some ancestry reading and some health readouts. Some however, go much deeper, with raw generic data that can be easily manipulated and sent to third-party companies.

Testing At-home STD tests allow you to test yourself from the privacy and safety of your own home. Your sample is then sent to a lab where it is analyzed, and results are delivered to you within a few days. Michal Jarmoluk