3 common health tests you should actually avoid taking

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1 January 1970

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There’s a lot of information online when you google testing for health – unfortunately, not all of it is science-based. If you’re considering any of these, I reckon save the money and spend it on a visit to a legitimate health professional.

1. Hair testing

Analysis of our hair can tell us some things: whether we’ve been taking certain drugs, for example, or to detect poisons or heavy metals. But analysis of our hair – no matter what some slick-looking websites may tell us – cannot tell us our hormone levels, our nutritional deficiencies, or whether we have an intolerance to food or anything else.

2. Bogus allergy and intolerance tests

Allergies, whether to foods or environmental factors, need proper diagnosis by a medical professional. To do that, they’ll use a combination of allergy tests – skin testing or blood allergen-specific IgE (immunoglobulin E) testing, plus allergen challenges – alongside a detailed clinical medical history.

Intolerances are trickier and need more thorough investigation and, importantly, the elimination of other reasons for symptoms. These tests, despite their science-y sounding names do not diagnose allergies: hair tests; kinesiology (muscle) testing; vega testing; cytotoxic testing; iridology; IgG food allergy testing; VoiceBio testing. Save your money and get to an allergy specialist.

3. Oestrogen tests

Unless it’s recommended by your doctor or specialist – which it might be to look at issues around fertility, cancer treatment or hormone therapy treatment post menopause – skip the ad hoc hormone testing from other providers. You might see tests for oestrogen levels promoted by supplement companies or natural health websites, pitched at diagnosing “oestrogen dominance” (which is not a widely recognised medical term).

Unfortunately a blood test of estrogen levels can only ever offer a snapshot – and depending on when it’s taken, it could give widely varying results, even in the same woman. If you’re premenopausal, estrogen levels rise and fall depending on where you are in your cycle.

If you’re perimenopausal, your estrogen levels are on the way down – but along the way they can wildly fluctuate, from super high to super low, even in the space of one day. If you’re having symptoms you think might be hormone- related, talk to your doctor who’ll be able to put all the pieces together.

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