Peril of genetic tests: Sometimes too much information can be ‘harmful’

3-21-2019 dec exercise and genes
Image: Stuart Briers

Genetic testing can raise serious questions about our health. Is it helpful to find out that we are likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease or develop Alzheimer’s in our older age?

People with a high-risk CREB1 genotype, rather than a protective CREB1 genotype, typically have poorer aerobic capacity and struggle to benefit from physical exercises.

[R]esearchers randomly told half the people in the study that they had the high-risk genotype and the other half that they had the protective genotype.

To see how those beliefs affected actual behavior, everyone in the study completed a treadmill running test, both before and after they were told about their genetic risk.

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[People who were told they had a protective genotype] had the same aerobic capacity before and after the manipulation. But the people who believed they had the high-risk genotype struggled more in the second session.

As technology becomes increasingly able to reveal deeper facts about our personal identities, we will need to consider which facts we do and do not want to know. Sometimes too much information can be counterproductive and even harmful.

Read full, original post: How People Actually Behave When They Know Their Genetic Risks

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