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YouTube is the single most popular video streaming service on the internet. You’ve probably used it to do research, watch movies or TV shows, or maybe you have YouTube personalities that you love to follow.
What you may not realize is that there are a lot of hidden YouTube URL tricks you can use that will make your YouTube experience more streamlined. In this article, we’ll cover the 10 most useful URL tricks you can start using right now.
Table of Contents1. Start a Video at Any Point
Whenever you put a YouTube video link into a browser, the video starts at the beginning. However, there are times when you’d like to share a particular part of a video rather than making someone watch the whole thing.
You can do this by editing the YouTube URL with &t=MmSSs and replacing M with the minutes and SS with seconds. The combination of minutes and seconds should mark the point in the video where you want it to start.
If you only want to start the video less than a minute in, you can omit the minutes addition like this:
You can paste this link into a text message, email, or social media to share it with others.2. Skip the Start of a YouTube Video
An alternative to specifying the number of minutes and seconds into the video is to just skip the beginning of the video by a set number of seconds.
This is useful if you’d like to skip a long video intro. To do this, just append a start point in seconds. For example, to skip the first 45 seconds of a video, you’ll just need to append &start=45.
When you press Enter, you’ll notice that the URL automatically changes to the previous format, inserting the start time in seconds.3. Create an Infinite YouTube Video Loop
On YouTube, there are a lot of videos you may enjoy playing in the background. These include ambiance videos like a fireplace or rain or even background music. You may want to leave videos like these running non-stop while you do other things.
There is an alternative site called chúng tôi that will take any YouTube URL and play it in a non-stop loop. To do this, just visit the YouTube video that you’d like to loop. Edit the URL and replace chúng tôi with YouTubeLoop.net.
Press Enter, and the chúng tôi site will play the YouTube video in an infinite loop.
This will loop the video permanently until you repeat the process and deselect Loop.4. Autoplay Embedded Videos
If you’re planning to share a YouTube video with a friend and want to have it play instantly when they open it, there’s another neat YouTube URL trick you can use.
To do this, just append ?autoplay=1 to the end of the video URL.
When your friend opens this link, the video will automatically start playing.
Note: In past years, you used to be able to paste links like this in social media or WordPress and the video would autoplay, however, this feature is disabled on most platforms now since they’ve become such an annoyance to users over the years.5. Disable Related Videos
When you embed your own videos that you’ve made on your website, YouTube will often display related videos to your viewers. If you really don’t want to support your competition with extra traffic, you can disable this feature by appending ?rel=0 to the end of the embed URL.
To get the embed code, select the Share icon under your YouTube video and copy the iframe code.
In WordPress, create a code block and paste the iframe code. Append ?rel=0 at the end of the YouTube URL.
Now, when your visitors watch your YouTube video on your site, they won’t see any related videos at the end.6. Download YouTube Video Thumbnail
If you’re writing an article or a paper for school and you want to mention a video while embedding the thumbnail into the document, there’s an easy service that lets you download the thumbnail.
To do this, you just embed the video ID into the following URL:
You can download the YouTube video thumbnail using this link:
You’ll see the video thumbnail appear as an image on the page.7. Create a Playlist Without a YouTube Account
You might already use playlists on YouTube. If you select the Save link under any video, you’ll see the option to save the video to one of your existing playlists, or create a new one.
But what if you’ve collected a list of several video IDs and you just want to watch a playlist without actually saving it anywhere? You can do this with a single YouTube URL trick.
Just insert each video ID you’ve collected into the URL as shown above, separated by commas. You can append as many video IDs as you want. For example, if you have four video IDs, your URL will look something like this:
When you paste this into a browser and press Enter, you can watch all videos in order as a quick playlist.8. See Only Your YouTube Subscriptions
If you visit the YouTube main page as most people do, you’ll see a list of YouTube recommendations for you. Many of these may be irrelevant and nothing that you actually care about.
This will open YouTube and only show you all of your subscriptions, and nothing else.
No more irrelevant recommendations, just start watching the stuff you already know you love.9. Create a GIF from a YouTube Video
Have you ever wanted to create a GIF that you could share on social media featuring your favorite TV clip or movie scene? You can do this if you can find a very short YouTube video featuring that scene.
You can use a site called chúng tôi that’ll let you create and edit a GIF based on any YouTube video, so long as you have the ID.
So if your YouTube video that you want to create a GIF from is NO8k8m, you just have to append this into the chúng tôi URL as follows:
This will open the entire video on the chúng tôi website in a simple editor tool. First, select the timeline of the video at the point where you want your GIF to start.
Next, select the point in the timeline where you want your GIF to end.
Select Create GIF, and walk through the quick wizard that will create the GIF for you. On the last step, you’ll see several optimized links for social media that you can use, or download the GIF to your computer.
It couldn’t be any easier to create fun GIFs that you can share wherever you like.
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Sounds exciting, right? And even though it sounds a little scary, the fact is you will almost certainly be okay when you start playing around in this area and can actually use the features here to improve and speed up your browser. These are Make Tech Easier’s favorite Firefox about:config tricks, freshly updated for Firefox Quantum.How to Access “about:config”
Type about:config into Firefox’s address bar.
You’ll see a long list of configuration entries. If you’re looking for a specific one, type its name into the “Search” bar above the list.
Now, let’s get tweaking.
You’ll have plenty of programs and apps on your PC that link to your browser – whether linking to your email provider, an online manual for a program, whatever. By default, Firefox will open links from other apps as a new tab, but you can change this to instead be a new window or to force itself into an existing open tab.
To change this, go to browser.link.open_newwindow in Firefox, then next to browser.link.open_newwindow.override.external, change the number to one of the following:
1: Force new window into existing open tab
2: Open a new window
3: Open link in a new tab2. Change Number of Content Processes
Do you like to work with a lot of tabs open at any one time, or do you rarely have more than, say, five tabs open? The more content processes you have, the more CPU resources will be assigned to each tab (which will also use more RAM).
If you have a powerful PC, then you can set this at a reasonably high number, which should improve the stability and performance of each open tab in Firefox. The name of this setting in about:config is dom.ipc.processCount.
Default value: 8
Modified value: 7-12 (depending on number of tabs you usually have open)3. Disable Unnecessary Animations
Animations in Firefox Quantum are not a bad thing, but if you have an old PC where every MB of RAM counts or simply don’t need these animated flourishes, you can disable them by going to toolkit.cosmeticAnimations.enabled and setting the value to “false.”4. Change Minimum Tab Width
It will take a more sharp-eyed Firefox user to notice this adjustment Mozilla made to Firefox Quantum. The default tab width is now just 76 pixels, whereas before it was 100. To adjust this, go to browser.tabs.tabMinWidth.5. Reduce Session History Cache, Save RAM
If you’re using an older machine, then even the typically speedy Firefox may slow down your PC with the default settings. This could be in part because of how it stores Web pages in its short-term memory (or RAM), which you can access using the Back and Forward buttons.
The preference browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers affects how many pages Firefox stores in such a way that they load super fast.
The preference browser.sessionhistory.max_entries affects how many pages each tab stores in its Back/Forward history altogether.6. Disable Extension Compatibility Checks
Compatibility checks. Who needs ’em, right? Actually, they’re pretty handy as a general reference of which extensions will work with your version of Firefox and which won’t, but Firefox doesn’t always get it right. If you want to see whether an extension that Firefox claims is incompatible may actually work, do the following:7. Change Firefox Download Location 8. Get Asked Where You Want Each Download Saved 9. Open New Tab for Search Box Results
By default, the things you search for in the Firefox search box open in the current tab. To open in a new tab instead, you’ll need to modify browser.search.openintab.10. Adjust the Smart Location Bar’s Number of Suggestions
In Firefox, when you start typing in the location (or URL) bar, a drop-down list of suggested sites will be shown. If you want it to show more (or less) than ten suggestions, you can adjust the browser.urlbar.maxRichResults keys and get it to show the number you want.11. Adjust the Session Restore Saving Frequency
Firefox saves your session every 15 seconds by default, but you can change the value of browser.sessionstore.interval so that Firefox will save the session at a longer interval.12. Extend Scripts’ Execution Time
In Firefox, a script is only given ten seconds to respond, after which it will issue an unresponsive script warning. If you are stuck on a slow network connection, you may want to increase the script execution time via dom.max_script_run_time to cut down on the frequency of the no-script warning.
0 – open all links the way you have Firefox handle new windows
1 – do not open any new windows
The default spell-checking function only checks for multi-line text boxes. You can change the option in layout.spellcheckDefault to get it to spell-check for single line text boxes as well.
0 – disable spellcheck
2 – enable spell-check for all text boxes15. Lower Memory Usage When Minimized
This tweak is mainly for Windows users. When you minimize Firefox, it will send Firefox to your virtual memory and free up your physical memory for other programs to use. Firefox will reduce its physical memory usage, when minimized, to approximately 10MB (give or take some), and when you maximize Firefox, it will take back the memory that it needs.
The preference name does not exist and needs to be created.
Enter the name when prompted: config.trim_on_minimize.
Enter the value: True.16. Increase/Decrease the Amount of Disk Cache
When a page is loaded, Firefox will cache it into the hard disk so that it doesn’t need to be downloaded again the next time it is loaded. The bigger the storage size you cater for Firefox, the more pages it can cache.
Before you increase the disk cache size, make sure that browser.cache.disk.enable is set to “True.”
0 – disable disk caching
Any value lower than 50000 reduces the disk cache
Any value higher than 50000 increases the disk cache
Modified value:18. Same Zoom Level for Every Site
Firefox remembers your zoom preference for each site and sets it to your preferences whenever you load the page. If you want the zoom level to be consistent from site to site, you can toggle the value of browser.zoom.siteSpecific from “True” to “False.”19. Setting Your Zoom Limit
If you find that the max/min zoom level is still not sufficient for your viewing, you can change the zoom limit to suit your viewing habits.20. Configure Your Backspace Button
In Firefox, you can set your backspace by getting it to either go back to the previous page or scroll up a page if it’s a scrolling site. Holding Shift as a modifier will go forward a page if the value is set to 0 and scroll down if the value is set to 1.21. Increase Offline Cache
If you do not have access to the Internet most of the time, you may want to increase the offline cache so that you can continue to work offline. By default, Firefox caches 500MB of data from supported offline web apps. You can change that value to any amount you like.22. Disable Delay Time When Installing Add-ons
Every time you install a Firefox add-on, you will have to wait for several seconds before the actual installation starts. To cut down on this waiting time, you can turn the preference security.dialog_enable_delay off so that the installation will begin immediately.
0 – starts installation immediately
any other value (in msec)23. View Source in Your Favorite Editor
This is very useful for developers who are always using the “view source” function. This tweak allows you to view the source code of a given website in an external editor.
There are two configurations that need to be made:24. Increasing “Save Link As” Timeout Value 25. Autohide Toolbar in Fullscreen Mode
In fullscreen mode the toolbar is set to autohide and appear only when you hover over it with your mouse. If you want, you can choose to have it visible all the time instead by toggling the value of browser.fullscreen.autohide to “False” to always show the toolbar.26. Increase Add-on Search Result
The Firefox about:config section provides a powerful way for users to fully customize the browser. For more Firefox tips, see our guide on how to reduce memory usage in Firefox and how to find and replace text in Chrome and Firefox.
Content Manager at Make Tech Easier. Enjoys Android, Windows, and tinkering with retro console emulation to breaking point.
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If you check the URL of your YouTube channel right now, it probably ends with a string full of random characters. That’s probably not a good look for your brand. If you want it changed into something like chúng tôi you will need to get a custom URL.Eligibility
Before we proceed, you need to first make sure your YouTube channel is eligible for a custom URL. Below are the requirements:
The channel must be at least 30 days old.
The channel must have a profile picture and a banner image.
The channel must have at least 100
If you meet these requirements, you are all set and ready to go.Getting a Custom URL
If you are eligible, follow these steps to get your own YouTube URL:
2. From the drop-down menu, select “YouTube Studio.”
3. From the list on the right side of the YouTube Studio page, select “Customization.”
4. Under Channel customization, select “Basic info.”
6. Your custom URL will appear in a box below. You can change it as desire.After the URL Is Set
Once the custom URL is set, it can neither be changed nor transferred to someone else. So make sure you think of a really good name that you won’t end up regretting later.
Besides a custom URL for your channel, another great way to enhance your brand would be adding a watermark to your YouTube videos.
Sahash Khanal has a background in Tech and currently works as a Technology Writer. His life’s dream is to write and publish a Sci-Fi novel.
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This post was sponsored by We Are Search. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.
The U.S. Search Awards is the premier celebration of PPC, SEO, and content marketing excellence across the United States – attracting entries from California to Massachusetts and North Dakota to Texas.
Now in its ninth year, the awards recognize the incredible creativity, innovation, technology, and people in search today.
The awards are judged by an esteemed panel of leading, international search experts – serving as a valuable and authentic acknowledgment of the outstanding work that takes place within the industry.
This year, there are 43 categories that encompass multiple industry sectors from retail to health.
Judges are looking to recognize outstanding campaigns and agencies that embrace the thinking and approaches specific to the sector, whether through the creative use of content, innovative use of data, or technical implementation.
We welcome entries from agencies of every size – no matter how large or small your budget or how big or little the marketplace.Why Should You Enter?
Entering, making the shortlist, and winning the awards are all opportunities for showcasing your expertise, attracting new clients and talent, and improving brand awareness.
Winning agencies also get a chance to shine in a 12-month U.S. Search spotlight.
For the agency and team, winning an award is a form of personal recognition. It also contributes to success becoming an integral part of your organization’s culture and employee expectations.
This kind of recognition helps increase productivity and commitment – ultimately reducing staff turnover and dissatisfaction.
A winning team wants to remain a winning team, so the drive and determination to retain the title will see a continuation of outstanding work that could see your agency taking home trophies and accolades year on year.
Our Winners Say…
“Winning the U.S. Search Awards for ‘Best Local Campaign’ is amazing! Being listed as a winner next to agencies we respect, reinforces the commitment we take to trust, transparency and results in SEO. We are very grateful for the exposure winning the award has brought to our Agency, and for the new client opportunities that the US Search Awards provided as a result.”
– Michael Hodgon, Marketing Director, Infront Webworks
“Our most recent U.S. Search Award win puts our grand total to 11 awards over the years, including 3x as Best Integrated Agency – large and small. Such validation from our treasured industry peers certainly brings us great pride, but more importantly assures clients and prospects that we’ve earned our place among the best search and digital marketers in the world. A U.S. Search Award speaks volumes about quality, innovation, and leadership.”
– Marty Weintraub, Founder & Creative Director, AimclearEthical, Transparent & Respected
The U.S. Search Awards are brought to you by We Are Search and Don’t Panic Events, both highly respected, ethical, and transparent award specialists who are proud holders of the Awards Mark Trust.
The robust two-step judging process which includes pre-scoring and a judging session ensures that U.S. Search Award accolades can be trusted by the industry, partners, and associates.U.S. Search Awards 2023 2023 Dates to Remember
June 18 – Early Bird Close
June 25 – Entry Deadline
July 14 – Judging Session
July 16 – Shortlist Announcement
October 7 – Awards CeremonyEntry Fees
Exclusive Multiple Entry Offer
Any organization submitting 10 entries will receive an additional 2 free entries which will automatically be applied at checkout when submitted together.Entry Essentials
Entries must relate to work undertaken between April 2023 – June 2023.
All entries must not exceed 1,000 words.
Entry questions differ per category, please be careful when submitting the same campaign into multiple awards.Entry Process
It’s easy to submit your entries to the U.S. Search Awards.
If you have never entered before, download The Don’t Panic Guide to Entering an Award or talk to the Award Experts at We Are Search who will guide you to the categories that most apply to your campaigns and teams.We Are Search
We Are Search delivers Search Awards around the world including European Search Awards, Canadian Search Awards, APAC Search Awards, and MENA Search Awards. 2023 saw the introduction of the Global Search Awards.
The We Are Search Top 100 is the Search Awards leaderboard for excellence. Currently, U.S.-based companies inhabit spots 3 and 4 but this could all change following the 2023 U.S. Search Awards announcements.
It will be exciting to see the international competition hot up over the year.
Visit We Are Search for details of all the Search Awards, articles, and updates from judges and for the latest Top 100.
The YouTube platform is booming day by day, a new content creator has a tremendous opportunity to build a successful YouTube channel from scratch. Before you dive into the ocean of video content, there are some things that you need to think about to maximize your chances of success.The purpose of Starting a Channel
One of the most important YouTube tips for beginners is to know the purpose of starting the channel. It’s a passion, promoting the business or trying to make a YouTube channel as a business. Defining a purpose will help to make content.
The purpose is the basis for three key elements: topic coverage, target audience, and reason for existence.
WHAT the videos will be about.
For WHOM videos are made.
WHY they should watch videos.
Define these things before launching the channel.
Decide on a production schedule. Be realistic, honest, and think long-term 2. What are the Tips and Tricks to starting a YouTube channel
Changing up the frequency later could tick off the viewership. Even missing one day, week, or month could anger fans. The more this happens, the more likely they will unsubscribe. When you have, opt for lesser frequency.
Check the frequency of YouTube channel Nas Daily.YouTube Success: Substance and Style
The true key to success is “substance AND style.” YouTube viewers judge based on the styling of the channel besides the content.
A successful YouTube channel needs these styling −
Smart Profile picture
Icon of a famous YouTube channel.
Attractive thumbnails of various channels.Create a banner and icon
The YouTube channel banner is the first thing viewers and possible subscribers see.
An effective banner lets the viewer know where they are, and compels the viewer to stay and check videos.
A channel icon is like a logo of the channel. It should match the brand and complement the channel banner.
Banner and icon of Nas Daily.Know the niche
Focused content is important. Try to find your niche and stick to it. Discover the area to speak about. Audiences are more likely to trust and engage with content creators who hold authority and proficiency in their area.Create a channel trailer
When someone visits the channel for the first time, a channel trailer is a way for them to get a sneak peek at the content.
Assuming them to be perfect strangers, introduce and tell them exactly why they should subscribe. Keep it short, sweet and snappy and let them know what content they will see.
Good channel trailer of Yoga channel.Just start recording and upload
“Practice makes perfect” is right but not true in this case. Watch enough professional YouTubers and just record. Start making videos as soon as possible. Learning how to start a YouTube channel as a beginner largely means pick th camera and start shooting.Don’t forget SEO
YouTube is not only a video platform but a search engine for videos. It’s important to familiarize SEO best practices for YouTube videos
Start putting targeted keywords in the name of the video file, title, and description. Try to put targeted keywords in the channel’s brand name. Add keywords in tags and hashtags.
Don’t forget competitor research.Analyse YouTube analytics
Data is the key to understanding whether videos are performing or not. YouTube analytics will provide several key points of data, including views, location of viewers, subscribers number and more. So, study analytics deeply for success.Don’t worry too much about your camera
Purchasing the best camera should not be your top priority. Smartphones will do the job initially. Instead of getting a new camera right away, getting tools that make it easier to shoot with the phone is wise. Eventually, upgrade to camera later in the journey.Do worry about audio
What needs to be heard is heard. The best way to do this is by having a strong microphone. Purchase a good microphone before a good camera.Necessary equipment’s
Buy Some essential equipment for creating high-quality videos like −
Camera − a high-quality webcam or smartphone is good to start.
Tripod − You want a tripod to hold the video capturing device and keep it steady.
Microphone − The built-in microphones are often terrible. Purchase an external microphone and record the audio separately, mix it with the video afterwards.
Green Screen − A green screen is necessary to change the background in videos.
Screen Capture Software − necessary if videos involve screen capturing, like software video tutorials or PC gameplay.Promotions
Cross-promote YouTube channels across other networks to help maximize success. Start promoting videos on social networks like Instagram, Facebook, or website, and partner up with other YouTubers to increase Viewers. Use end screens effectively to keep viewers around and make sure they don’t leave without subscribing to the channel. One can add other videos, a subscribe button, or a link to another channel to keep viewers engaged.
Bright side a famous YouTube channel video’s end screen.Conclusion
These are some of the key things that need to be known to become a successful YouTube channel creator. Use these tips to set up the channel, optimize it to get videos ranked, and gain more subscribers. These are especially helpful if one is new to YouTube and starting fresh.
The Food & Drug Administration is finally allowing 23andMe to provide testing for the breast cancer-related genes BRCA1 and 2. Back in 2013, when the direct-to-consumer company originally starting selling the test, the FDA clamped down and forced 23andMe to verify its genetic health risk evaluations. 23andMe had to prove the genes they were testing for were related to a health condition, and show that the tests were accurate.
But it also means we’re handing out data to people who might not be adequately prepared to hear it, and who might not actually understand what they’re getting. Testing positive for a genetic mutation often doesn’t mean you’ll get the associated disease, and we still don’t really understand how exactly genes impact your overall health. Before, when you had to get your genetic information through a counselor, a trained expert walked you through the process and explained the complex factors that go into disease risk. Now you get your answer from a website.
There’s a lot to unpack about this new BRCA test, so let’s take a few minutes to discuss what’s at stake here.What is BRCA, anyway?
Inside your cells, you have a set of proteins whose only job is to identify and fix mistakes in your DNA. Every time your cells divide (which, by the way, happens millions of times a day), they have to replicate your genetic code to pass it along. Individual mutations—which is what we call any mistake in your DNA—happen all the time, but your repair proteins fix most of them before they cause any harm. Mutations most often come in the form of one DNA building block being swapped for another, but sometimes they occur because a DNA strand breaks, and the repair protein mends the strand imperfectly. Maybe a piece is lost, or the wrong end of the strand gets stuck back on. If just one strand snaps, the repair proteins can usually match the right end. But if both strands break at once, repair proteins struggle to make it right.
This is why the majority of women with BRCA1 and 2 mutations go on to develop breast cancer. In the general population, 12 percent of women develop the disease at some point in their life. But having certain BRCA1 or 2 mutations ups those odds to 72 and 69 percent, respectively. It also increases your chance of getting ovarian cancer, though not by nearly as much.
These mutations are inherited, so women with a strong family history of breast cancer—especially family members who got cancer in both breasts and/or at an early age—are often encouraged to get a genetic test. Being a carrier of these mutated genes doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop breast cancer, but it increases your odds so much that doctors tell people with positive results to get screened for cancer earlier and more often.Does the 23andMe test work?
In order to get greenlit by the FDA, 23andMe had to prove that their test was clinically valid, meaning it can detects BRCA1/2 mutations with high accuracy and precision.
The big caveat here is that the 23andMe test only looks for three possible mutations out of more than 1,000 known variations. Not all of those are harmful, but many are, and the 23andMe test can’t tell you whether or not you have most of them. A negative result means you don’t have the three most common BRCA1/2 mutations, but you might have others.
It’s also worth noting that these three mutations are almost exclusively found in the Ashkenazi Jewish population. Though you may have Jewish heritage that you’re unaware of, most people not of Ashkenazi descent are going to test negative through 23andMe regardless of whether or not they’re actually a carrier for other BRCA mutations.Should I get the 23andMe BRCA test?
Very few physicians would recommend BRCA testing for the broad population. Less than one percent of people have a BRCA1/2 mutation, so screening everyone isn’t practical or ethical. You’d end up with a lot of false positives—meaning the test says you have a mutation, even though you don’t—because no test is 100 percent accurate. But it is often recommended that you get a test if you have a family history of breast cancer, or if a family member has a known BRCA mutation.
Before home DNA tests, you’d have to go to a genetic counselor to discuss whether you should get a BRCA test at all. The National Society for Genetic Counselors argues that this should still be the standard. “Anyone who has a strong personal or family history of breast or ovarian cancer and is interested in finding out more about their individualized risk should consult with a genetic counselor to discuss their genetic testing options, or to discuss their results,” said Erica Ramos, President of the NSGC, in a statement. Though it’s never a bad idea to go talk to a counselor, not everyone still agrees with that idea.
“I have become more open to the fact that not every person who gets BRCA testing needs a pre-emptive counseling session with a certified genetic counselor,” wrote Leonard Lichtenfeld, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the American Cancer Society, on his official ACS blog. “Even the genetic counselors have told me they have better things to do with their time, and that there are acceptable alternatives to informing those who want to know more about the test before they get it, such as computer-based information modules.”
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which reviews evidence for various screening tests and offers a recommendation, says that women should first be screened for a family history of cancer and that “women with positive screening results should receive genetic counseling and, if indicated after counseling, BRCA testing.” They recommend against getting screened if you have no family history suggesting BRCA mutations.
“Given the importance of integrating medical and family history in understanding the implications of the results, it is similarly important that these be considered when deciding which tests are needed,” says Michael Watson, Executive Director of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics. “Not only is it important to have knowledgeable professionals involved in interpreting the clinical implications of the results of these tests for a specific individual, it’s equally important that these knowledgeable professionals be involved in informing people of which test is most useful for them, if any.”
He notes that many of the other health conditions that direct-to-consumer tests look at don’t have a lot of clinical relevance. If you find out you’re predisposed to certain eye diseases, it probably won’t change what your doctor recommends you do to stay healthy. But Watson explains that the BRCA mutations do change your situation. Some women will have preventative mastectomies or hysterectomies to confront an extremely high likelihood of cancer.
There’s no one right or wrong answer to the question of whether you should get the test or whether you should talk to a counselor. But it can’t hurt to talk to a medical professional.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that companies who profit from selling you a genetic test are the ones encouraging you to take said test. It used to be that DNA testing companies got their business through doctors and genetic counselors. Now those companies are coming directly to consumers, and we shouldn’t assume they have our best interests at heart.
23andMe receives a steady stream of income from selling customers’ genetic information. Some of it goes to research institutions, but they also sell to for-profit companies who use that data to try to develop new drugs. Though they may have nothing but good intentions, 23andMe only profits if people take their tests. It’s not in their interest to tell you that this may not be the right choice for you.
That being said, 23andMe is also a fairly cheap and easy way of looking at genetic markers for health risks. It’s probably not the ideal way to learn about those risks—that’s why we have counselors—but it’s not the worst. And if you’re unaware of your family history—if you’re adopted or estranged from your biological family—getting a test like 23andMe can be an accessible way to learn some basics.What happens if my test says I’m positive?
Should your test say you have a BRCA1/2 mutation, now you should definitely talk to a genetic counselor. 23andMe doesn’t directly provide those services, so your best bet is to use the NSGC’s “Find a Counselor” tool. You’ll also probably want to talk to your primary care doctor about the results, since they should be aware of your situation. It’s possible they’ll ask you to consider some proactive treatments, depending on how high your risk is. And if you test positive for one of the common BRCA mutations, they’ll definitely want to put you on a more intense cancer screening regimen than the general population.
You may think that if you know what the results mean and don’t care to do anything about them, you don’t need to see a counselor. But here’s the thing: you don’t know what you don’t know. Genetic counselors are trained to talk to people who have just received what is, undeniably, life-changing news. They will know what you need to be aware of, and should you experience any anxiety or depression from the news, they’ll get you help. And perhaps even more importantly, they’ll know if you should follow your 23andMe results with a more in-depth genetic screening. There are many other mutations out there related to breast cancer, and some of them can raise your risk for other kinds of cancer, too.
23andMe repeatedly brings up the study they did showing that receiving a positive BRCA test didn’t have negative impacts on their customers. That may very well be true, but you should also know the conclusion came from interviewing just 32 people who responded to a request to participate in the study, out of 136 people who tested positive. Out of those, 16 were men. Male carriers still have a significantly elevated risk, but their lifetime risks of 1.2 and 6.8 percent for BRCA 1 and 2 respectively are still lower than the average woman’s breast cancer risk. It also slightly elevates the risk of prostate cancer.
When asked about their emotional response to the news, three women and one man reported that they were moderately upset, indicating they “couldn’t stop thinking about the result.” Another three women and 6 men were somewhat upset, meaning they felt “initial disappointment” or “felt anxious at first but then anxiety went away.” Nine women and eight men were neutral (some of these may have been people who already knew they were carriers, since five women reported they had already been tested).And what if it’s negative?
Since the test only looks for three mutations, a negative result on the 23andMe test isn’t a guarantee of anything. If you have a family history of breast cancer, you should go to a genetic counselor and ask about getting a full screening. It’s only with a broader test that you’ll know whether you’re truly a carrier, which can inform your future plans for cancer screenings like colonoscopies and mammograms. So unless you also want to take 23andMe for other reasons, it doesn’t make much sense to use it for BRCA. Just skip right to talking to your doctor. 23andMe may be cheaper if you’re trying to get tested without insurance, but it’s still not going to do you much good when you’re left with incomplete results.What if I don’t want to know?
No genetic test is to be taken lightly, so everyone should consider the possible outcomes before they get one. Maybe it’s right for you, maybe it isn’t. Just think about it first. And if you’re at all willing or able to do so, talk to a doctor or genetic counselor, too.
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