Americans are using genetic tests for everything — and worry no one about it

Written by Lorna Edwards, CNN Life’s more complicated than ever. Hardwired into the human body as it is, many of us — it’s rumored — use some form of DNA testing kit at some…

Americans are using genetic tests for everything -- and worry no one about it

Written by Lorna Edwards, CNN

Life’s more complicated than ever. Hardwired into the human body as it is, many of us — it’s rumored — use some form of DNA testing kit at some point or another. All those different kinds of tests aren’t just poking us with a stick, though.

But a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition warned of a potentially troubling trend: The number of Americans using clinically-validated at-home DNA testing kits has been rising.

The United States already allows at-home testing for blood and urine markers for some human pathogens — like, for example, the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cancer. But the American Academy of Pediatrics has warned that, in doing so, parents are liable to overestimate risk factors and misinterpret individual tests results, resulting in increased testing and increased anxieties.

Yet consumers believe their tests are increasingly accurate. In a June 2018 Gallup poll, 74% of Americans said they believe genetic testing methods are at least as accurate as traditional medical tests, and another 57% said they believed they were better at distinguishing risks.

One brand that’s been particularly popular among Americans is 23andMe. The company launched its Genetic Counselor service in 2014, offering a physician-diagnosed method for understanding at-home genetic tests and their possible consequences. The idea was, perhaps, to create a platform for people to connect with science and experts, while also offering a source of health-related advice, without having to place trust in a potential health professional.

For its part, 23andMe also encourages parents who are seeking out advice about their child’s DNA testing history, to contact the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC.

Leave a Comment