Genética e Atividade Física

Ponto de Encontro dos Profissionais, Estudantes e Pesquisadores. Tem por objetivo divulgar, discutir e promover estudos sobre genética aplicados às atividades físicas, esportivas e de saúde.

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Genética e Seleção de Talentos

Pelo jeito ainda é muito cedo para falar em seleção de talentos através de testes genéticos. Muito interessante a colocação do possível desestímulo para os jovens que estão inciando no desporto caso um teste baseado em evidências tão tenues e conflitantes pode gerar.

Active Voice: Genetic Testing for Sport Talent Identification — Ready for Young Athletes?
By Stephen M. Roth, Ph.D., FACSM

Viewpoints presented in SMB commentaries reflect opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of ACSM.

Stephen M. Roth, Ph.D., FACSM, is Associate Professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Maryland. His research is focused broadly on the interaction of DNA and exercise, including studies examining the genetic influences on exercise-related traits and also the role of chronic exercise on DNA structure. He is a co-author of the regularly published “Advances in Exercise Genomics” articles in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®.

Several businesses are now offering genetic tests that purport to predict one’s ability to perform in certain sports. The companies claim that the tests will show customers which sports they are most genetically suited for, or that the test results will inform training decisions for maximizing performance. Do these tests do what they claim? Is the science underlying these tests sound and ready for public consumption?

We know that genetic factors contribute to sport performance, but researchers are just at the beginning stages of identifying the specific genes and gene sequence variations that explain that genetic contribution. Over the past decade, researchers have begun this process, but at present only a handful of genes have been found that appear to contribute to such traits, and none have been shown to have a clear, strong contribution. In effect, these businesses are taking preliminary findings and marketing the genes as more concrete contributors to sport-related traits than the science justifies. In some cases, genes included in these tests have been examined in only a handful of studies, while in other cases inconsistencies in the research findings are ignored and only select findings are used to justify the inclusion of a gene in the test. In both cases, consumers are not getting a product they can rely upon.

Talent identification is as much an art as a science, and it is no wonder that parents and coaches are interested in improving the state of the art. Children develop on unique trajectories making prediction of future talent challenging when considered at any one particular time during childhood. And because genetic factors are important, it is natural to want to use that piece of information to improve the process. But in the present state, the genetic tests marketed for sport performance are premature. The science is not developed enough to justify the selection of the genes included in these tests, let alone to support the use of the tests to modify a child’s sport participation or training to fit a genetic profile. What researchers have found most consistently over the past few years is that the genetic contribution to sport-related traits is remarkably complex, not governed by one or two major genes, and is not easily adapted into a direct-to-consumer genetic test.

All this uncertainty about the usefulness and scientific validity of the tests raises concerns about the possible negative consequences for children and athletes subjected to the tests. Parents and coaches are unlikely to recognize the scientific limitations of the tests and may push young athletes into or out of sports based solely on a company’s test interpretation. Athletes rarely have the autonomy to opt out and may feel coerced into participating in genetic testing. The end result can mean young athletes are pushed in a direction that does not consider the child’s wishes or best interests. As scientists and clinicians, we are in a unique position to appreciate the wishes of parents and coaches to provide the best for their young athletes yet explain how these tests are likely to do more harm than good in their present iteration.


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