The increasing popularity of at-home sport genetic testing is raising accuracy and ethical concerns among sports medicine professionals, according to a presentation made at the American College of Sports Medicine's (ACSM) 58th Annual Meeting and 2nd World Congress on Exercise is Medicine®.
Among the concerns:
- DNA profiles are shared by family members and can also be predictive of disease risk factors, so adults should be cautious.
- Because genetic counselors are not on hand to deliver the results, there is a risk of misinterpretation and misuse.
- Some believe testing could trump enjoyment with science in youth sports.
"There is little question that the genetic profile these companies return to the consumer is accurate - these are robust techniques," said Stephen Roth, Ph.D., FACSM. "The real questions are whether or not the consumer is able to properly interpret the profile and whether or not children should use these tests to predict aptitudes in athletics."
At least three companies sell these at-home tests online. Users simply take a cheek cell or saliva sample and send it to the company. The company then processes the sample and sends a genetic profile for the user to analyze and interpret from home.
"I would not recommend these tests for anyone except adult athletes seeking information for themselves out of curiosity, but I would remind those adults that the science is still shaky," said Roth.
Posted June 4, 2011