Should I get my DNA scanned, even though it might reveal that I'm fated to suffer some incurable disease like Parkinson's?

The author of an article that appeared in Wired, at was asking a question many of us have asked:


Should I get my DNA scanned, even though it might reveal that I'm fated to suffer some incurable disease like Parkinson's?

The answer was, in the end:

So, no. Don't do it. Or at least use a lab your doctor recommends; don't search for one on Google. DNA tests are barely regulated, and plenty of online labs are fly-by-night "Canadian" Web pharmacies. And choose a lab that also offers genetic counseling, because you'll need someone to help decipher your results

The author suggested that people choose to pay for a genetic test because they think they're buying a "sense of control". If you know what your future might be, you can "prepare for it - or even prevent it". But, acknowledging that genetic results are "probabilities, not certainties" the author concludes that broad tests--or a number of tests--will turn up something. Do you think you'll have more control over your future if your test results says, "eat better, stop smoking, get more exercise"?

And, does learning you have one of the BRCA mutations mean you're going to choose a double mastectomy? That doesn't sound like control to me.

Well, maybe you are just curious. What will you do if you get bad results--do you tell your children, your relatives? Will you tell your insurance company? If you do, they may cancel your policy (even though it's supposed to be illegal); if you don't tell them, you're committing insurance fraud.

So, this article's author says: "Don't do it." I say, consider first what you will do with the results, then consider a genetic test--but be sure you choose one you can afford, both security-wise and money-wise. Better yet, consider putting it on your to-do list--for a year or two from now.

geneforum.

Marie Godfrey, PhD

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