A new test which could detect cancer, Alzheimer’s and possibly even hair loss has hit shelves in the UK. The product, developed by a company backed by Google, will retail for £125 and uses saliva to assess genetic information. Over 100 pieces of information are assessed in order to determine how likely you are to develop various different health conditions.
Sold by 23andMe, a Google-backed company run by the wife of Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, the test requires you to send saliva samples in the post to the company. Samples are then analysed and tested (this takes between four to six weeks) before a detailed report is sent back. The saliva test could predict how likely it is that you’ll experience genetic hair loss, and can even offer information about your ancestry.
Genetics by post
But, provided you feel secure enough sending your genetic material through the post to a firm you’ve never even heard of, are the tests accurate?
Medical Director for the Pharmacy2U Online Doctor Service, Dr Nitin Shori, gave his views on the £125 test, “It’s an interesting proposition and something that could spark an interest with many people, particularly those who know about an inherited medical condition running in their family. However, it’s important to be aware that a genomics test like this isn’t going to definitively answer whether or not you’re going to develop a particular condition. Patients may be unclear about what the results mean or unsure what to do in response to them.”
Uncertainty still abounds as to the reliability of the test, which has been banned by the FDA in America after the company failed to provide evidence as to how accurate the tests were.
Funmi Lampejo, pharmacy manager at The Belgravia Centre’s City of London hair loss clinic advises, “Genetic testing for traits such as the likelihood of developing alopecia will probably become more commonplace in the future. The validity of this particular test has not yet been established so it is impossible to gauge how useful the test is. It is also worthwhile to note that the test will only establish if a person has the gene. It will not indicate what will trigger the expression of that gene, or the chances that the gene will ever be activated“.
Ascertaining hair loss potential
As Funmi explains, this test won’t actually tell you whether or not you will develop a hereditary hair loss condition, but it may give you an indication of the likelihood. Genetic thinning can be inherited from either side of the family, so if your mother experienced hair loss, or your father had male pattern baldness, it’s likely you will have inherited ‘the balding gene’ too.
The tests could allow you to find out earlier whether you’re likely to be affected, which could give you the opportunity to start using hair loss treatments early in order to prevent premature balding and boost regrowth. Whether it’s worth spending £125 on a test of this nature is a personal decision, although people should remember not to take the results too seriously.
Male pattern balding and female hair loss can both be treated using the MHRA licensed and FDA approved pharmaceutical products: minoxidil and finasteride 1mg (although finasteride 1mg is for men only). Many of our clients experience significant results – which they often marvel at in disbelief! – from following personalised hair loss treatment courses featuring appropriate high strength minoxidil formulations from those available at our clinic pharmacies. You can see hundreds of examples of how these treatments have helped both male and female Belgravia clients to regrow thinning hair and restore receding hairlines in our extensive collection of photographic Hair Loss Success Stories.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.