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a scientist looking at genes

Over the counter genetic tests in the UK that assess the risk of cancer or heart problems fail to identify 89% of those in danger of getting killer diseases, a new study has found.

Polygenic risk scores are so unreliable that they also wrongly tell one in 20 people who receive them they will develop a major illness, even though they do not go on to do so.

That is the conclusion of an in-depth review of the performance of polygenic risk scores, which underpin tests on which consumers spend hundreds of pounds.

The findings come amid a boom in the number of companies offering polygenic risk score tests which purport to tell customers how likely they are to get a particular disease.

Everything Genetic promises that their Antegenes cancer test uses hi-tech polygenic risk score technology to assess an individual’s genetic risk of developing cancer.

“The test will tell customers their personalised risk score of developing the cancer tested for over the next 10 years, compared with others in their age bracket,” their website claims.

But the academics at...