Giving people genetic tests to determine their future risk of serious diseases may actually damage their health by causing unnecessary stress, says a British expert.
Many companies in Europe and the United States offer genetic testing for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other conditions.
The tests are too inaccurate to help a person, and someone who's told they're at high risk for a disease based on a genetic test may never actually develop the condition, said Professor Nilesh Samani, chair of cardiology at the British Heart Foundation, BBC News reported.
"Over the years, scientists have made incredible progress in unraveling the genetic basis of common diseases, leading to the discovery of genetic markers for a growing number of diseases," Samani said. "However, carriers of these genetic markers are typically only 20 to 40 percent more likely to develop the condition per copy."
There's also the risk that genetic tests may offer a false sense of security for some people.
"Having a 'low' risk variant of a gene doesn't mean 'no' risk," said Samani, who spoke Monday at a human genetics meeting in York, BBC News reported. – (HealthDayNews)