You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You About 23andMe and Other Genetic Tests

The Healthy Logo By Kimberly Hiss of The Healthy | Slide 1 of 9: Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests have become popular over the past few years. These tests allow customers to get a genetic analysis of their own DNA without going through a healthcare provider. In April 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the company 23andMe approval to sell consumers information about their genetic risk for 10 conditions, including Parkinson's disease, late-onset Alzheimer's disease, celiac disease, hereditary thrombophilia, and more. In October of 2018, the FDA also authorized them to sell reports about potential medication reactions that may be due to genetic influences. "Healthcare is becoming more and more consumer-driven over time," says Mary Freivogel, former president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and cancer expert. "Direct-to-consumer genetic testing is likely here to stay and expand dramatically over the next five years." So what exactly can these genetic tests reveal about your health? Several companies, including 23andMe, offer genetic testing (sometimes requiring physician involvement) that shed light on wellness-related factors (like sleep and weight), carrier status (for diseases like cystic fibrosis), inherited cancer risk (like breast cancer), and even inherited traits (like eye color and food sensitivity) as well as your ancestral background. It's important to note that the FDA reviews DTC tests that are intended for "moderate to high risk medical purposes." The agency reviews these tests to analyze clinical validity and the company's claims. However, DTC tests that are non-medical or for general wellness are not reviewed before they're offered to the public. The agency warns consumers to be cautious with DTC tests and talk with a health care provider about your results. Now, read on to learn what your doctor isn't telling you about these DTC tests. (Here are 7 ways your genes impact your drinking habits.)

What your home DNA test can (and can't) tell you

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests have become popular over the past few years. These tests allow customers to get a genetic analysis of their own DNA without going through a health care provider. In April 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the company 23andMe approval to sell consumers information about their genetic risk for 10 conditions, including Parkinson's disease, late-onset Alzheimer's disease, celiac disease, hereditary thrombophilia, and more. In October 2018, the FDA also authorized them to sell reports about potential medication reactions that may be due to genetic influences.

"Health care is becoming more and more consumer-driven over time," says Mary Freivogel, former president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and cancer expert. "Direct-to-consumer genetic testing is likely here to stay and expand dramatically over the next five years."

So what exactly can these genetic tests reveal about your health? Several companies, including 23andMe, offer genetic testing (sometimes requiring physician involvement) that shed light on wellness-related factors (like sleep and weight), carrier status (for diseases like cystic fibrosis), inherited cancer risk (like breast cancer), and even inherited traits (like eye color and food sensitivity) as well as your ancestral background.

It's important to note that the FDA reviews DTC tests that are intended for "moderate to high risk medical purposes." The agency reviews these tests to analyze clinical validity and the company's claims. However, DTC tests that are non-medical or for general wellness are not reviewed before they're offered to the public. The agency warns consumers to be cautious with DTC tests and talk with a health care provider about your results.

Click through the slide show above to learn what your doctor isn't telling you about these DTC tests. (Here are 7 ways your genes impact your drinking habits.)

© Image Point Fr/Shutterstock

More from The Healthy

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon