The Estonian government is to collect the DNA of 100,000 citizens to provide them with personalised health and lifestyle advice. Nearly eight per cent of the country’s 1.3 million population will supply blood samples for the unprecedented programme, which aims to minimise health problems by warning participants most at risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
However, critics say the state-funded €5m (£4.36m) scheme could cause unnecessary worry for people who discover they are more likely to suffer certain diseases.
Estonia’s government is the first to run a personal genetic information service, although similar schemes are run by private companies such as California’s 23andMe.
The programme will analyse participants’ DNA for 600,000 variants linked to common diseases.
It is hoped that participants who are given early warnings will adopt healthier lifestyles or take preventative drugs.
The service will also be able to flag people who are likely to suffer adverse reactions to common medicines, such as codeine and anti-depressants.
The Estonian scheme will likely allow people to specify which information they would like to receive, according to New Scientist. For instance, participants could chose to learn if they were predisposed to common diseases but not if they have increased risk of cancers.
The programme began collecting samples this week and more than 10,000 people have signed up since it launched on 20 March.
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