Promethease Offering Free Uploads* Through December 31, 2017

Promethease (https://promethease.com) is offering free uploads through December 31, 2017 if you agree to let them keep your information on their website. In the past, they purged your information from their website after 45 days, but allowed you to download your results to your computer. The advantage to this offer is you save $5 per each kit (some kits cost $10 if you use the larger file sizes like DNA.Land) you register this way and you can still download your results. While some will see a downside since they are keeping your information indefinitely, it is done in an anonymous manner. From the way I read the permission, you are free to withdraw your permission at a later date and they will remove your results.

Disclaimer: none of the information in this post is intended as medical advice, nor should it be construed as such. If you have medical questions about DNA test results, consult a trained geneticist who is familiar with the DNA company you tested at and who is also familiar with whatever medical condition(s) you are looking at. I haven’t talked with my doctor about my DNA results, but many people have done so. The results varied widely with some doctors and medical professionals supportive of their patients’ decision to DNA test and discuss the results with them to those medical experts who ignore your results.

A big word of caution: don’t rely only on the results of ANY DNA test to determine your risk factors for a condition or disease. The simple fact is DNA medical results too often rely on very limited markers for a particular condition or disease. For example, schizophrenia has roughly 250 known markers associated with it. How many more markers will later be linked to it? And of those currently linked to it, how many of those will later be determined to not be a factor in getting the condition? Unfortunately, many experts love to assume only a handful of markers or genes cause a specific condition or disease. As more research is conducted, we will uncover a lot more markers that cause a condition and find some of the ones originally thought to cause the condition either don’t cause the condition, reduce the odds of getting the condition, or have minimal impact on your odds of getting the condition. A great example is 23andMe. They predicted my odds of getting a specific condition based on a couple of markers and admitted that one of the markers they were relying on hadn’t been proven to cause the condition, but is in the same region as another marker known to cause the condition. I am not saying totally ignore the results if a DNA test shows you are at higher risk for a condition, but I am saying don’t rely only on the results to assume you are safe or at risk. Best to check with a medical genetic expert familiar with the condition who is also aware of what variant(s) were tested with whatever company you tested with (if sounds like I am repeating myself, I am). A great example is the BRCA markers hyped by some people. Unless the latest test at 23andMe tests all of the known variants of these markers, you aren’t getting the full picture. In the past, they only tested some of the BRCA markers and intentionally didn’t test other BRCA markers to avoid getting sued by a company that used to own the patent for some of the BRCA markers. As if that wasn’t bad enough, most people who get breast cancer don’t have the BRCA markers tested so even if you fully tested the known BRCA markers, it doesn’t guarantee you won’t get breast cancer.

On a somewhat related note, don’t assume variant = disease/condition or lack of variant = lack of disease/condition. As I noted in the above paragraph, the experts haven’t found all known markers for a condition. I bring this up because people on the 23andMe forums regularly comment things like they have the disease, but don’t have the variant(s) for the condition or that 23andMe estimated their odds of getting the disease at 0% (or pretty close to 0%). While others on the 23andMe forums are worried about getting the disease because they have the variant(s) for the disease. In most cases, you could have all the known variants for a disease and never get it or have a handful of the known markers and get it even if the odds are pretty low. Another point missed by 23andMe and numerous experts (or at least I rarely see this point raised) is the fact your DNA changes on a regular basis; it’s usually not a massive change so it’s probably not going to change your relationship levels in any meaningful way. Let’s take lung cancer variant markers. You could test negative for all of the markers today, but tomorrow you start smoking or working in a lung unfriendly environment or any number of other things that could change your DNA markers for lung cancer and in a few years (or less), it changed your DNA so enough of the negative markers are now positive and you get lung cancer. At some point, full DNA testing will become cheap enough ($100 or less) that you will get full DNA testing as part of a regular yearly physical and hopefully your lab will compare the new test results to the previous year’s results in case some of the safe markers have changed to unsafe markers. At some point, we may reach the point where medical DNA testing is good enough to reliably and consistently estimate our chances of getting specific conditions at 99.9999999999% accuracy. Personally, I don’t think we are remotely close for the vast majority of medical conditions to project anywhere near this accuracy. Likewise, I hope the experts don’t rely on predicting personality behavior, attitudes, etc. based on flawed DNA perceptions. I don’t believe everything we do (including every thought, action, behavior, attitude, etc.) is determined by our DNA. For most things, it’s based on the personal choices we make or don’t make. Yes, there are experts out there who want to use DNA as the excuse for somebody being a serial killer or otherwise engaging in bad or criminal behavior. Thankfully, they aren’t mainstream yet, but it’s only a matter of time before one of them comes up with “proof” that serial killer DNA markers exist (i.e.,  DNA markers that make a person into a serial killer). My concern is the growing attempt to explain bad or criminal behavior as DNA caused and blame DNA as the culprit. How about we blame the person who did the bad or criminal behavior and hold them accountable instead of trying to excuse their behavior as something they couldn’t control?

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