While the DNA testing business seems to be booming, it may not be the “get healthy quick” solution that consumers have been looking for. The worldwide consumer DNA testing market was valued at $70m in 2015 and is projected to rise to $340m in 2022. Despite the obvious demand for the service, research is showing that DNA testing doesn’t necessarily lead to a healthier lifestyle.
In a synthesis of 18 studies comprised of people who received doctor-ordered genetic testing, researchers found that obtaining DNA info had no notable effect on diet, physical activity, alcohol consumption, smoking habits, sun protection habits or participation in disease screenings. Lead researcher Theresa Marteau stated that having one’s DNA test results “has little if any impact on changing routine or habitual behaviors.” She did note that some anecdotal evidence refuted the team’s findings. For example, one genetic test recipient, Dr. Francis Collins, managed to lose 35 pounds after discovering a predisposal to Type 2 diabetes.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine had the following to say regarding DNA testing: “Test results can provide a sense of relief from uncertainty and help people make informed decisions about managing their health care. For example, a negative result can eliminate the need for unnecessary checkups and screening tests in some cases.” Some studies have also shown that simply going through the DNA testing process may lead to slightly improved diet and exercise habits, as the test serves as a good reminder to stay on track. Future parents also seem to benefit from genetic testing. CNN reported that by testing blood from the mother and saliva from the father, researchers can determine if a fetus has any chromosomal abnormalities that could potentially lead to a genetic disorder.
While the demand for DNA testing is certainly on the rise, it appears that the scientific community is still evaluating the usefulness of the service.