Doctors and scientists thoroughly criticized the mushroom growth of the over-the-counter testing kits that are commonly available in the market today. The health experts who did the study in association with the Sense About Science charity cautioned the public about the possible ill effects the DYI testings could fetch them.
The report says that the home-testing kits, which are available for cholesterol, blood sugar, liver function and other biological markers of disease, could bring harmful and medically misleading effects.
AdvertisementFor example, the full-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and CT scans may give results, detecting the minute variataions from the norms of a healthy norms, which may not really cause diseases. But such results could betray the medically-ignorant public who make use of the tests.
The unnecessary scans involved in the process of detecting diseases like cancer could be even more dangerous in the sense that the radiations involved with such scans will only result in increasing the risk of developing cancer.
The report urged the government to formulate regulatory measures that would check the misuse of DYI testing and prevent its harmful impact upon the public.
The report warned: "Unlike medicines and national screening programmes, there is no regulation or requirement for research on the effectiveness of testing.
"With direct-to-consumer tests, anyone can set up a lab and sell testing."
Dr Danielle Freedman, of the Royal College of Pathologists and co-author of the report, said: "The public buy 'testing kits' over the counter and via the internet without knowing the limitations of their results.
"There are 'cowboys in vans' on the high street offering for a price a wide range of tests.
"Do the public know whether tests are performed to the same quality standards as laboratories routinely providing this service to both the NHS and private sector?"
Many of the tests are aimed in indicating the presence of biomarkers such as cholesterol levels in the blood. But the presence of such biomarkers need not necessarily be an indicator for the disease, because so many other factors including a person's life style is included in the presence of such biomarkers in the blood.
The blood tests done at home are more prone to contamination with other fluids. This will reduce the reliabilty of such tests. Similar is the risks involved with the bodily fluids sent via post. The chances for such fluids to be affected by the temperature changes are more, which again will make the result inaccurate and invalid.
Andrew Green, a GP on the Sense About Science panel, said: "Nobody should arrange their own medical tests. If you don't have symptoms, then very few tests are worthwhile, and those that are can be had through your doctor."
The boom created to promote the home-based tests is fetching millions of pounds to the industry at the risk of public health. An increased public awareness by creating database that provides evidence of performance and usefulness is necessary to put a stop to this seriously growing negative trend.