22 Jan 2013

Academic alarmed online genetic testing popular

9:41 pm on 22 January 2013

The director of general practice research at Otago University is alarmed by the increasing popularity of internet-based genetic testing services.

The cost of such a service has dropped dramatically in recent years, leading to a burgeoning array of direct-to-consumer services offering to predict clients' risk of developing diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.

Associate Professor Dee Mangin from the Christchurch School of Medicine worries about the robustness of the testing itself and how the results are then interpreted by lab analysts.

She says diseases develop from a complex mix of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that genetic testing alone cannot predict.

Associate Professor Mangin says people can be made very anxious by an incorrect prediction that they are at risk of a certain condition.