Was a genetic testing kit under the tree?

Cleveland Clinic

(Cleveland) - If you received a genetic testing kit as a Christmas present, an expert has a warning for you. 

Dr. Charis Eng of the Cleveland Clinic Genomic Medicine Institute says these kits may not be accurate in detecting possible medical issues.

"Many of them don’t test every single gene, although they claim to,” explains Dr. Eng. “Some of them actually just look at certain spots so you can be either falsely alarmed or falsely lulled into complacency and that’s never good.”

Eng contends results from at-home genetic tests can be easily misinterpreted and shouldn’t be taken at face value.

She says it’s important to know that some direct-to-consumer genetic tests only report limited information for health conditions, and often don’t provide the full picture of disease risk.

Eng adds that genetic counselors are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to interpreting genetic testing results.

A genetic counselor can explain the pros and cons of testing and talk through potential results and what they mean. They will also analyze family history to determine if more extensive genetic testing is even necessary.

“If after a personal family history there’s no indication, you don’t need genetic testing because you are mostly likely not at genetic risk of disease,” maintains Dr. Eng. “So, it’s good to have that talk with an expert. Don’t do it alone, you are not alone.”

Eng encourages people who believe that a disease runs in their family to seek out a genetic counselor.

(Photos by Ken Robinson/WTAM)

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