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Study gauges emotional toll of direct-to-consumer genetic testing
Date:10/3/2011

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Among the latest health care trends seeking to advance "individualized medicine" are private companies marketing genetic testing directly to patients. The mail-in kits, with price tags as high as $2,500, use a saliva specimen to identify small variations in the human genome (called "single nucleotide polymorphisms" or "SNPs") associated with heightened risk for diseases such as diabetes and prostate cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (http://www.fda.gov) has raised concerns about whether the tests are clinically beneficial and has advocated they be conducted under medical supervision, but few studies to date have investigated the emotional effects that direct-to-consumer genetic screens have on patients.

VIDEO ALERT: Additional audio and video resources from Dr. Clayton Cowl are available here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHoL6hxQt6g).

In the October issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, (http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com) a group of Mayo Clinic physicians and bioethicists analyzed whether these genetic tests cause patients to experience excessive worry about developing diseases.

"We looked for evidence of increased concern about disease based solely on genetic risk, and then whether the concern resulted in changes in health habits," says co-author Clayton Cowl, M.D., (http://www.mayoclinic.org/bio/10854533.html) a specialist in preventive, occupational, and aerospace medicine, and a physician in the Mayo Clinic Executive Health Program (http://www.mayoclinic.org/executive-health/).

The randomized study found patients' worry tended to be modestly elevated one week after the genetic testing, and that people worried more about unfamilia
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Contact: Nick Hanson
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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