Defending 23andMe’s DNA health test: ‘You will learn something’ of value

2-6-2019 reviews feat dna rev
Image credit: Peart/Shutterstock

The New York Times decided to publish an editorial … warning people to “be careful about 23andMe’s Health Test.” What are they worried about?

Although the article is accurate, the warning suggests that 23andMe is misleading its customers somehow. Is it? I decided to take a look.

I’m a customer of 23andMe, and I’m also a researcher in genetics and genomics, so I know quite a bit about how their technology works and about what it can reveal.

The 23andMe report also provides a wealth of information about the BRCA genes, including links to the scientific papers describing the genes and their link to cancer. I was very impressed by how thorough they are.

Related article:  FDA approves 23andMe's direct-to-consumer DNA test assessing patient's ability to respond to antidepressants

The fact is, genetics is not fate. Identical twins, who share identical DNA, rarely die of the same causes. Thus even if you knew your genetic risks perfectly, for every mutation in your DNA, you might not find anything to change in your behavior. At most, you might learn that you should get mammograms or colonoscopies slightly more often. It’s legitimate to argue that you won’t learn anything useful from the 23andMe tests, but you will learn something about genetics.

Read full, original post: NY Times, Why Are You So Worried About 23andMe’s Genetic Tests?

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