Two Tests to Skip

12 Jan

The following tests are sometimes recommended by doctors even though research shows they are inaccurate or have no effect on treatment options.

Alzheimer’s   One genetic tests screens for an early onset form of the disease, another for a gene, APOE, that increases the risk of developing it later in life.

Why skip it:   Early Alzheimer’s accounts for less than 1 percent of dementia cases. And the test for the APOE gene isn’t very accurate. Though about 15 percent of Caucasians and 25 percent of African-Americans have the variant, that doesn’t mean they’ll develop the disease. Last, there’s no way to prevent Alzheimer’s so you can’t do anything differently to reduce risk, and in fact knowing the gene is present can cause anxiety, or discrimination in obtaining long-term care insurance, “says Heather Snyder, Ph.D., senior director, Medical & Scientific Operations at the Alzheimer’s Association.

Eye vitamins   Some doctors say that testing people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) for certain gene variants can help determine whether the patients should take a supplement with only zinc and copper or one that also has vitamin C and E, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

Why skip it:   The study behind that recommendation was funded by the vary lab that performs the gene test. And it was refuted by a mayor 2015 National Eye Institute study. “Genetic tests for AMD have no proven benefit for treatment for the patient being tested,” says study lead author Emily Chew, M.D., deputy clinical director at the National Eye Institute. The standard supplement formula, called AREDS, works equally well for all groups, she says.

Source: Consumer Reports on Health December 2016


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