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DNA in Retrograde

Slate – At-home medical tests are an awful lot like astrology: “…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.” A range of customers have also reported being unimpressed with their mail-in test results. 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. A single, easy-to-take test may seem authoritative, but there could be important missing context that a trained professional could provide, or they may suggest a different diagnostic tool entirely. In the case of uBiome, gastroenterologists say the company’s diagnostic test can’t hurt, but is unlikely to capture the full complexity of the gut. That would require longer-term monitoring and multiple tests over time…”

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