Promethease is a DNA analysis service that provides a personalized health report based on your unique genetic makeup. It uses an uncurated database of research on genetic variations to give you information on certain health traits and your genetic risk for various diseases. Learn more about Promethease in this review.
Promethease is a third-party genetics service that creates reports using a consumer’s raw DNA data that they get from a genetic testing company.
The information within the report is taken from SNPedia, a Wikipedia-style database that collects published research on the relationships between SNPs and health outcomes.
In fact, Promethease was developed by the same team behind SNPedia as a way to present this research so that people could become informed of their potential genetic health risks.
By combining your unique set of SNPs with the relevant studies in the SNPedia database, Promethease is able to give you estimates of your genetic risk for certain traits, diseases, and conditions.
If you decide to create a Promethease report, remember that the report does not account for environmental, dietary, medical history, and lifestyle factors, all of which contribute to your risk for a disease or health outcome.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what Promethease has to offer, its limitations, and how you can make the most of the service.
- Accepts raw data uploads from all major genetic testing companies
- Inexpensive (much cheaper than similar services)
- Provides references for research used in report
- Report is updated with new research as it becomes available
- Doesn’t provide any lifestyle or supplement recommendations
- Results may be easily misinterpreted given that it’s not curated
- Not layperson-friendly
- Too much medical jargon
- Doesn’t give any useful tips regarding lifestyle, diet, and supplement interventions
- Complicated user-interface
- Requires a lot of time to make sense of the information in the report
- Does not take into account multiple SNP variations when determining health risk (polygenic risk scores)
- Focuses on diseases without reporting on aspects of health (fitness, diet, nutrient status)
- Data users see are not organized
When you first access your report, it may be a little overwhelming, especially if you are not well-versed in genetics.
Upon accessing your report, you’re immediately confronted with a lot of text and numbers that initially you won’t be able to make sense of. For a detailed analysis on how to understand Promethease reports, read this post.
After uploading your data, you will need to enter your payment information. The cost of uploading a single file is $12. If you want to upload multiple reports to compare the results between them, it will cost $4 for each additional report.
Keep in mind that much of the information in your report contains scientific and medical terms that are not easily understood by the average person. For some, this may prove to be a little intimidating or may cause confusion.
The Promethease team could have done a much better job in translating this information into content that is easily understandable for the average person who is not well-versed in the literature.
In this sense, Promethease is much more catered to the small percentage of people who are knowledgeable about genetics and research methodology.
Let’s say you have the genotype for a SNP that is linked to 2x increased risk for heart disease. This means that in some studies this genotype occurred more frequently in people with heart disease than in people without.
This does not mean that you will develop heart disease or that your risk is double that of the general population. More research will be needed to know what role, if any, these SNP variants play in actually causing heart disease.
More importantly, looking at a single SNP doesn’t tell you much about your risk of heart disease.
You may have a SNP that is linked with an increased risk of heart disease and another one that is linked with decreased risk, in effect cancelling each other out.
It’s possible to create a polygenic risk score for a specific health outcome by combining the individual risks of many different SNPs related to that outcome.
However, Promethease doesn’t provide polygenic risk scores and instead you’re left to speculate on what this combined risk may be.
When it comes to analyzing your risk for disease, you also need to take into account your diet, lifestyle, and family history.
Complex diseases like heart disease are caused by many different factors and your risk for developing them can’t be determined by looking at a single SNP.
Overall, Promethease could improve upon how they present the risk associated with your genotype so that users don’t misinterpret their report and worry needlessly.
One of the features Promethease provides is the ability to filter your report to help you sift through the massive amount of information within it. Your report will contain data on thousands of SNPs so you will need a way to narrow it down to only the most important ones.
To do this, you will need to make use of the many filters on the panel along the right side of the report, most of which are not intuitive.
Positive: the search bar makes it easy to find the SNPs associated with specific health conditions, diseases, or traits.
Negative: very time-consuming. You’ll probably need to spend a lot of time adjusting the filters and using the search function to find the relatively few SNPs that are most important for your health and well-being.
The user-interface is complicated and unintuitive, which means it may take some time to get used to it. There are many filters you will need to get familiar with before you can access the full potential of the information in your report.
It’s likely Promethease understands this because the tutorial widget will appear any time you reopen or refresh your report to help reacquaint you.
Anyone can submit research to SNPedia. The submitted research is screened by the SNPedia team to make sure it meets certain standards including peer-reviewed. Promethease simply organizes this research in a report.
It’s unclear if the research can be trusted because we don’t know who is submitting or reviewing it.
SNPedia’s database includes research on over 100,000 SNPs and studies are constantly being added to it.
This means that the information Promethease uses to create your report is always being updated.
If your data is stored with Promethease, you can generate a new report at any time and see the most up-to-date information. If your data is not stored with Promethease, you will need to purchase a new report to check for any updates.
MyHeritage, the company that acquired Promethease, says it does not sell or license any of your personal information to third parties, but it probably bought Promethease to use the data for its own purposes.
Promethease users are able to delete their genetic data and accounts permanently from MyHeritage at any time.
One area where Promethease falls short is providing actionable advice such as lifestyle, diet, and supplement suggestions based on your unique genetic variations. You’re presented with all of this information on your potential health risks but you aren’t given any tips on how to address them.
You’re not able to use your genetic data to improve your health.
It’s important to remember that your genetics are not your destiny. SNPs are only one of the many factors that play a role in your health and risk of developing a disease.
There are companies that are using these are points of data together with genetics, but Promethease isn’t one of them.
Many SNPs have not been researched and we are not yet sure how individual SNPs interact with each other to influence genetic risk.
Clearly, the science is in its infancy and much more research needs to be done.
It’s also important to note that direct-to-consumer genetic tests are prone to false positive errors. If you see a highly concerning finding in your report, it’s important that you confirm it using a clinical laboratory that specializes in genetic testing and follow up with a qualified healthcare practitioner .
A user on Reddit asked for help understanding their reports after uploading a DNA file from 23andMe to Promethease.
Promethease has 6 reviews on DNAtestingchoice, averaging 3.9 of 5 stars. While one customer appreciates the direct links to SNPedia, a Promethease reviewer complains about the reports not being user-friendly.
Promethease is a low-cost DNA analysis service that creates a report using the raw data you get from a genetic testing company.
It contains information on thousands of SNPs, but you can filter it to find the ones that you’re most interested in. However, this process can be complex and time-consuming.
None of the information is curated and it’s difficult to understand what is being said.
It lacks polygenic risk scores since it looks at each SNP individually. It doesn’t take into account other non-genetic variables when assigning risk.
As another drawback, Promethease focuses on diseases only, which means that they don’t interpret your DNA in terms of fitness, wellness, and dietary tendencies. They also don’t provide any recommendations to help you reach your health goals.
Promethease is a relatively good service for its cost and the information provided, but it requires time, patience, and advanced knowledge to make sense of it. And if you’re seeking gene-based lifestyle tips and supplement recommendations, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Lastly, exercise caution when interpreting your results. Being faced with a thousand-pages-long list of medical diseases in the Promethease report may cause fear and anxiety.
Your genetics are only a part of the picture. Other factors including diet and exercise also play important roles in your health and risk for disease. Consult your doctor or genetic counselor before making any decisions based on your results.