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Theranos Is Wrong: We Don't Need More Blood Tests

Stashed in: #health, Awesome, Medicine, Diabetes, math, Theranos, Self Test

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Certain people probably are motivated to make positive lifestyle changes merely by getting more comprehensive information about their health. But in the aggregate, data alone doesn’t seem to fuel better decisions. For example, almost 35 percent of American adults are obese, which is likely quite apparent to them, yet many have great difficulty losing weight. A review of studies published in March concluded that communicating genetic risk for diseases does not change people’s health behaviors, including smoking, diet, exercise, alcohol use and sun protection. And a study published last year found that screening for Type 2 diabetes didn’t change total physical activity, smoking habits or alcohol consumption.

As for prediabetes, while there is an awareness campaign to identify those who have it (about 86 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), there’s little evidence that that doing so will change outcomes. And identifying someone as “sick” can change self-image and cause stress, even though most people with prediabetes will not actually develop diabetes, said Gabriela Spencer Bonilla, who conducts health services research at the Mayo Clinic. It will also funnel millions more people into lifestyle management programs that are already strained by the needs of people with full-blown diabetes.

Not all of Theranos’s vision is misguided. Making lab tests cheaper, expanding access to tests used for diagnosis, and reducing the pain of traditional blood tests are “clearly worthy goals,” Ioannidis wrote in a critical look at Theranos published last year. But the vision of giving everyone widespread access to more blood tests in the belief that more information is always better is naïve at best, and harmful at worst

but isn't the only way to get better tests is to go through less accurate tests? innovation and iteration? 

FiveThirtyEight seems to think not because more consumers will be confused than helped. 

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