Sunday, March 13, 2016

Trying to Expose Sham "Nutrigenomics Testing"

Denise Minger published a post about her genetic MTHFR status that convinced me to test mine, but now I'm writing to expose this for scam it is. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that there is simply no scientific evidence for the claims on,, or any of the other websites that have sprung up around Dr. Yasko's unsupported claims about SNPs and the detox/methylation cycle.  I fell for, and many people are continuing to fall for it.

The idea of correlating individual genetic differences to different nutritional requirements seems scientifically plausible.  But searching Pubmed shows that the claims being made about specific SNPs are not backed up by published scientific research. This scam propagates on plausibility, confusion, and ultimately, apathy.  I was taken in and confused by the veneer of scientific credibility...and when it didn't make sense I assumed I just needed to spend more time on the research.

But there is no research backing up these claims. They can all be traced back to Amy Yasko, who runs a website promoting her personal interpretations and observations.  While she claims not to make any money from sharing her knowledge, she promotes products and testing sold by her husband's company.  Her bibliography appears to include extensive scientific work, but I was unable to locate any of the papers she claims to have published.  She states that she is now "too busy" to publish her results.  I also could not find any confirmation that she is a real doctor (JD or PhD).

The sad truth is that, whether she believes in her own theories or not, this is a classic snake oil supplement gimmick hiding behind a sheen of fake science.  Selling B vitamins as miracle drugs has a long history, because almost everyone feels better with a few B vitamins (that's why they put them in energy drinks).  If you try the more expensive supplements she promotes, you may or may not feel better.  If you do feel better, you're quite likely to promote the gimmick. Most of the people commenting write in to say that they are feeling better, or think that they will when they get their supplement combination dialed in.  If you don't fell better, you might be motivated to try a different high-priced supplement, or you might just give up and stop reading this (or other) blogs.  The result is a huge number of people who appear to have been helped by this approach, and a continuous supply of new customers.

While we all want personally-tailored miracle drugs, maybe the best we can say right now is to eat "whole foods, mostly plants, and not too much"...and skip the overpriced unscientific supplements.

More background on Amy Yasko's nutrigenomics scam.

A brief review of the state of the science for one of Yasko's claims.

My review of the complex problems involved in evaluating Yasko's incomplete metabolic diagrams.

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