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Promethease Review: What can DNA research tell us?

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Last updated:

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 at a Glance

What is Promethease?

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.

Promethease creates a long report based on your raw DNA data to help provide some insight into your potential risk for certain diseases.

Snapshot

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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

Promethease Review: 13 Important Aspects of Your Report

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.

Cost

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.

To generate a Promethease report you will need raw DNA data from a genetic testing company. You can then upload this data to receive a report that is viewable in your browser.

Layperson-Friendliness

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.

Knowing what genotype, repute, and magnitude mean is important for making sense of your Promethease report.

No Polygenic Risk Scores

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.

Non-Genetic Factors

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.

Promethease gives SNP-based disease associations, but they don’t provide polygenic risk scores or discuss environmental influences.

Filtering Your Results

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.

The Search Bar

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 filters on the Promethease platform are meant to help users find relevant SNPs in their report. The search bar filters SNPs related to specific traits or diseases. The whole process is not intuitive or quick.

User Interface

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.

Scientific Validity

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.

Thoroughness and Depth

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.

Privacy

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.

Natural Recommendations

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.

General Limitations

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.

Other factors including your personal and family medical history, lab results, sleep, stress, exercise, and diet should be considered when reviewing your report.

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 [1].

Promethease Reviews

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 Review Summary

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.

Alternatives to Promethease

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About the Author

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen won the genetic lottery of bad genes. As a kid, he suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, anxiety, depression, and other issues that were poorly understood in both conventional and alternative medicine.Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a journey of self-experimentation and self-learning to improve his health--something that has since become known as “biohacking”. With thousands of experiments and pubmed articles under his belt, Joe founded SelfHacked, the resource that was missing when he needed it. SelfHacked now gets millions of monthly readers.Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, author and speaker. He is the CEO of SelfHacked, SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer.His mission is to help people gain access to the most up-to-date, unbiased, and science-based ways to optimize their health.
Joe has been studying health sciences for 17 years and has read over 30,000 PubMed articles. He's given consultations to over 1000 people who have sought his health advice. After completing the pre-med requirements at university, he founded SelfHacked because he wanted to make a big impact in improving global health. He's written hundreds of science posts, multiple books on improving health, and speaks at various health conferences. He's keen on building a brain-trust of top scientists who will improve the level of accuracy of health content on the web. He's also founded SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer, popular genetic and lab software tools to improve health.

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