At-home telomere testing is not a reliable marker of aging, researcher says | Science News

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At-home telomere testing is not a reliable marker of aging, researcher says

Companies pledge to tell you your cellular age from a drop of blood. Don’t be so sure

By
10:00am, June 7, 2018
at home tests for telomere length

JUST A NUMBER  Several companies offer at-home test kits for telomere length. Send in a blood sample and, these companies claim, they’ll tell you if you are older or younger than you think. Test kits also come with advice for maintaining the ends of your chromosomes.

Stay younger, longer. Great idea. But direct-to-consumer test kits that promise to gauge a person’s biological age by analyzing a drop of blood are not worth the $100 or so investment, says oncologist Mary Armanios. The tests measure the length of telomeres, the bits of DNA that cap and protect the ends of chromosomes. But the consumer tests are unreliable and can be misinterpreted, Armanios says.

“These kinds of tests can do harm, suggesting there is something wrong when there isn’t,” says the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine researcher, who uses a clinical test of telomere length to diagnose and treat people with certain rare disorders.

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