Campaigns against public spitting in the 19th century were largely driven by concerns about the spread of tuberculosis. However, at the beginning of the 21st century, spitting seems to be making a comeback. Over the past few years, several companies have begun offering personal genomic tests online to the public. There have been famous images of “spit parties”, where celebrities are seen filling tubes with saliva to ship for DNA testing. Getting information on one’s genes has been promoted as fun, as part of social networking, and as a basis for improving health and preventing disease.
When it comes to spitting to improve one’s health, we say: think before you spit. Our knowledge of the potential benefits and harms of these tests is incomplete at best. Despite exciting research advances in genomics of common diseases, there is still much to learn about what this information means and how to use it to prevent disease. A little bit of incomplete or inaccurate information may even be harmful.
*This blog post was originally published at Genomics and Health Impact Blog*