Viewpoint: Consumer DNA tests promise more than they can deliver

andme toc
Image credit: Sonya Collins

Over the past few years, many [DNA testing companies] have branched out into the realm of precision health, treading into ethically dangerous territories.

The major problems with these tests are two-fold. First, many of the tests lack scientific validity to support the genetic outcomes revealed to their customers.

Second, there is no professional counseling required before and after the consumer receives her results.

The lack of context attendant with consumer DNA testing for health reasons is a serious and potentially harmful issue. 23andMe, for example, only tests for three of the most common BRCA mutations associated with an increased risk of getting breast cancer. In fact, there are almost 1,000 BRCA mutations that need to be assayed to provide an accurate assessment.

Related article:  DNA testing companies are making money off your genetic data. Should they be paying you?

In one small study, Ambry Genetics examined 49 samples sent in by physicians whose patients had been told that they had disease-causing mutations by a third-party vendor. Ambry Genetics found that 40 percent of the results were wrong.

The complexity of genetics and disease risks mandates an ethical directive that customers requesting such tests should also require genetic counseling and education, both prior to doing the tests and after receiving their results. DNA testing for health by clinically certified laboratories is the only logical way to proceed.

Read full, original post: Consumer DNA Testing Is Crossing into Unethical Territories

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