A host of new DNA tests marketed to consumers can give you a wealth of information about your propensity to develop diseases in the future. But how reliable is this information?
In July of this year, a report issued by the US Government Accountability Office presented at a congressional hearing on genetic testing raised serious questions about the reliability of this data. The GAO found that direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic test results were “misleading and of little or no practical use to consumers.” As a test, the GAO sent identical saliva samples to four leading companies. It found that disease predictions varied widely, “indicating that identical DNA can yield contradictory results” from each company.
The GAO also found 10 “egregious examples of deceptive marketing” by companies, such as saying they could predict what sports children would be good at. And unbelievably, two companies saw no problem for a woman to surprise her fiancé with the results of his genetic test performed on him without his permission or knowledge.
Even if the results were 100% reliable, are you sure you want to see this information? A feature writer for the leading tech blog gizmodo.com describes the experience in this gripping feature story.
We all would like to see into the future. But for most of us we only want to see things that we can prevent or change. For now, medical science cannot change our DNA.
To comment on this post, click on the title, or email the author firstname.lastname@example.org.