herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Doctors call for controls on scans

Tests and body scans to predict future diseases can be misleading and "medically meaningless", experts said today as they called for tighter regulation.

Scientists called for increased surveillance of private firms that offer a range of genetic tests for conditions such as Alzheimer's, body scans to look for tumours or other issues, and those that sell medicines online.

The explosion of health information on the internet means people are more empowered than ever but could be vulnerable to claims which cause confusion and anxiety, the scientists from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in the UK said.

Private DNA tests may be "medically or therapeutically meaningless" and give false results or ones that are "unclear, unreliable or inaccurate".



Unnecessary

Body scans often show up "abnormalities" which are harmless and may result in people having unnecessary surgery.

There are no accurate figures on how many people have genetic tests or undertake body scans to assess their risk of developing conditions such as cancer and heart disease.

Experts behind the report welcomed the fact that no firms appear to still be offering full body scans, but said there are still radiation risks associated with scanning individual body parts.

This kind of imaging can cost more than £1,150 and can take the form of CT, MRI or ultrasound scans.

The experts said DNA tests may create needless anxiety, while buying medicines online can be "dangerous".

hnews@herald.ie

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