Wednesday, January 19, 2011

People Want to Know What Their DNA Says

Despite the "experts" who think they shouldn't
When companies tried selling consumers the results of personal DNA tests, worried doctors and assorted health experts rushed to the public’s rescue. What if the risk assessments were inaccurate or inconsistent? What if people misinterpreted the results and did something foolish? What if they were traumatized by learning they were at high risk for Alzheimer’s or breast cancer or another disease?

The what-ifs prompted New York State to ban the direct sale of the tests to consumers. Members of Congress denounced the tests as “snake oil,” and the Food and Drug Administration has recently threatened the companies with federal oversight. Members of a national advisory commission concluded that personal DNA testing needed to be carefully supervised by experts like themselves.

But now, thanks to new research, there’s a less hypothetical question to consider: What if the would-be guardians of the public overestimated the demand for their supervisory services?

In two separate studies of genetic tests, researchers have found that people are not exactly desperate to be protected from information about their own bodies. Most people say they’ll pay for genetic tests even if the predictions are sometimes wrong, and most people don’t seem to be traumatized even when they receive bad news.
Yep, people are often smarter and have better common sense than "experts" give them credit for. But then, that's a low bar. That is especially true when it comes to things that directly concern them. They may be a little flakier on stuff that doesn't impact their life.

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