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November 10, 2021

Is genetic testing really worth the money?

Worried that your genes predispose you to developing diabetes or some other disease? Or maybe you’re just curious as to whether your DNA is going to give better-than-average chance of living past 90.  

AdFor prices ranging from $200 to close to $1,000, that information can be yours in a matter of days, according to a growing number of genetic-testing companies now pushing their services online.

Sites such as 23andMe, FirstMark ONC, and Navigenics merely require a small saliva sample, advertsing that their results provide information about risk factors for up to 95 diseases and predicted responses to drugs.

The sites suggest that worried consumers will benefit through better understanding their health risks, leading them to smarter decisions and healthier lifestyles.

But, are they worth the money? Probably not, according to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine

The study tested whether the genetic profiling information from these sites influenced the psychological, behavioural and clinical wellbeing of 2000 people who took the tests.

Overall, the researchers found virtually no effect on the psychological health, diet, activity level or use of screening tests by those who had received DNA-related information, leaving them sceptical about the health benefits of this sort of genetic profiling.

What's worse, many doctors worry about the relevance of the test results to actual disease risk for patients, as well as challenges for patients in interpreting the results of these tests.

Have you signed up recently? Would you do so in the future? Have the results influenced your behaviour in some way?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money






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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...