Whether the test results are clinically valid or useful is also a concern. Dr. Bruce R. Korf, president of the American College of Medical Genetics, recently told HealthDay that inaccurate results could create a sense of "false reassurance."
Someone who learns he or she is at reduced risk for type 2 diabetes, for example, might figure they don't need to worry about weight or diet, said Korf, who is also chairman of genetics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "The [test] may not give you the whole story and may not even be true for [that patient]," he said.
Fears that test results might be emotionally devastating were not borne out by a recent study led by Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, Calif.
"There have been proclamations that this would induce a tremendous amount of fear and trauma for people and speculation as to whether it would help at all," Topol said. But his study, published in January in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that consumers don't suffer great anxiety in the face of negative results, nor do they change their lifestyle habits in response to test results.
The U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute has more about genetics and disease.
-- HealthDay staff
SOURCES: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, executive summary, March 8, 2011; Bruce R. Korf, M.D., Ph.D., president, American College of Medical Genetics, and chairman, genetics, University of Alabama at Birmingham; Eric Topol, M.D., director, Scripps Translational Science Institute, La Jolla, Calif.; Jan. 13, 2011, New England Jour
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