Viewpoint: Consumers gain little from 23andMe’s screening for BRCA cancer genes

Cancer hp slide D OF master
Getting a CT scan could boost your cancer risk? Image: Rina Castelnuovo

This month [March], the FDA granted the genetics company 23andMe permission to offer direct-to-consumer testing for three of the more than 1,000 known variants of the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 that have been found to confer an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. (The tests were previously only available through a doctor.)

But not everyone is celebrating. Because the gene variants found by the test are extremely rare, most people who take the test won’t come away with much meaningful information, and there’s no good evidence that people who take the test will be better off than those who don’t.

What we have is a clash of philosophies: Should consumers have a right to information that some experts have deemed unhelpful and potentially harmful for most people?

[23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki said] even though there aren’t many carriers of BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, some women who could benefit from screening aren’t getting tested. And even if the test doesn’t change what you know about your cancer risk, Wu said, “the results can still inform your conversations with your doctor.”

The marketing of these tests “thrives on the idea that people can make their own decisions,” [epidemiologist Cecile] Janssens said. If a customer believes that the test has utility for them, then in their view, it does.

Read full, original post: Anyone Can Now Take This Breast Cancer Gene Test, But It Probably Won’t Tell You Much

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend