There’s no question that our blood tells us a lot about our health. It can give us a look at how much cholesterol we have circulating in our blood vessels, how much cortisol is being pumped out by our adrenals, which vitamins we have in good (or not-so-good) supply. Given all the medical information hidden in human blood (and sometimes our saliva, too), it’s no wonder that modern-day advances have brought these tests out of the realm of just the doctor’s office and into our homes. But if you’re new to the whole concept, it’s normal to wonder, “What’s really up with at-home testing?” And, “Can I really trust the results?”

Here, University of Florida research scientist and professor Dr. Dominic D’Agostino and Base’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Murdoc Khaleghi tackle some of the most common questions on your mind.


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Do At-Home Blood Tests Live Up to the Hype? Leading Health Experts Weigh In

Can we trust at-home lab testing since it’s so new?

It’s a good question, but the reality is that the finger-prick blood test method has been around for much longer than you might think --- it simply hasn’t been available to consumers the way we see it being used today until recently, Dr. D’Agostino says that this methodology was first invented in the 1980s, with the first applications being used in pediatrics as a safer alternative to full blood draws for newborns.

In fact, Dr. D’Agostino has been using these at-home tests for 25 years, both personally and in his research (including with NASA!). “We have subjects including astronauts in extreme environments where drawing blood would be beyond the risk that would be allowed,” he says. “A finger prick is much safer and we’re able to get the blood that we need and also the saliva for things like cortisol, since the environments are very stressful.”

Will an at-home blood test really be accurate enough for me to gain control over my health?

Yes! For the majority of people, at-home lab testing provides an appropriate level of accuracy. As Dr. Khaleghi explains, maybe an at-home test can’t “say whether your TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) is 3.86 vs. 3.84, but it can absolutely give you an idea of whether your thyroid is functioning high or low.” The differences between at-home and lab center lab tests are minimal or insignificant for most people. Bottom line: If your goal is to learn your baseline levels and make informed decisions to improve your well-being, a finger prick or saliva sample does the job.

Wait, can a saliva sample really read your hormones?

In some cases, it’s an even better test than blood samples. Blood samples tend to take the spotlight when it comes to biometrics testing, but “saliva testing is also very accurate --- some would argue superior --- for testing hormones like cortisol and testosterone,” says Dr. D’Agostino.

Dr. Khaleghi explains that this is because hormones are actually present in two different forms in your body: active and inactive. When they’re active (aka free), they’re actually exerting their effects on your body, whereas inactive hormones are simply bound to proteins. For many of your hormones, their free state lives in your saliva, not your blood.

What’s the point of repeated blood testing --- isn’t one test enough?

Here’s the thing --- your hormones fluctuate throughout the day, which means that one snapshot of your biomarkers in time isn’t the best way to gauge your health. For comparison’s sake, says Dr. Khaleghi, think about blood pressure. “Most people are aware that if you were to test your blood pressure throughout the day, there’s going to be some pretty dramatic differences based on the time of day, if you’ve recently exercised, recently ate, how stressed you’re feeling,” he says. “But for some reason, people are less aware that that’s actually true for most of our biomarkers. There are studiesthat show that if you’re lying down and you stand up, your cholesterol changes immediately. The way that biomarkers should be understood is the way you understand your blood pressure. You repeat tests over time to see trends.” And therein lies the advantage of at-home testing: It’s so convenient, which makes it possible for regular testing to become a part of your routine.


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