Should direct-to-consumer DNA tests come with a health warning?

Genetic testing is appropriate — and can be life saving — when doctors and genetic counsellors interpret complex results and map out the various courses of action. However, direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing companies, such as 23andMe, deliberately eschew the framework between clinician and patient. Under the banner of personal empowerment, DTC companies proclaim that their products confer a new level of control over one’s health, and that to have your genome sequenced is a liberating act that is both exciting and personally responsible. In practice, however, results may lead to unnecessary anxiety or a false sense of security.

Unrealistic claims about gene tests also encourage a false sense of genetic determinism. Increasing numbers of “previvors” or “worried well” would cause huge burdens for the medical community and tie up resources for a predominately privileged citizenry. Most diseases and traits do not reliably stem from the tiny snippets of DNA that current DTC genetic tests examine. In reality, most of us can learn more from stepping on the bathroom scale than from a DTC gene test.

Read full, original story: Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Tests Should Come With a Health Warning

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