Feds Think You Are Too Stupid to Understand Genetic Test Results

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If you don't want to know anything about your DNA, don't buy any tests.

Yesterday, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in the House of Representatives held a hearing during which an apparently damning report on genetic testing by General Accountability Office (GAO), DIRECT-TO-CONSUMER GENETIC TESTS: Misleading Test Results Are Further Complicated by Deceptive Marketing and Other Questionable Practices, was released. For example, the report makes much of the fact that one tested donor who had a pacemaker implanted 13 years ago was told by two of four companies that he was at below average risk for irregular heart beats and two others found his risk to be average. That sounds really bad, doesn't it? Well, maybe not. The GAO report also notes:

Different companies often provide different results for identical DNA: Each donor received risk predictions for the 15 diseases that varied from company to company, demonstrating that identical DNA samples produced contradictory results. Specifically, in reviewing the test results across all four companies for the donors' factual profiles, we found that Donor 1 had contradictory results for 11 diseases, Donor 2 for 9 diseases, Donor 3 for 12 diseases, Donor 4 for 10 diseases, and Donor 5 for 9 diseases….

These contradictions can be attributed in part to the fact that the companies analyzed different genetic "markers" in assessing the donors' risk for disease. As described in a recent article published in the science journal Nature, researchers determine which markers occur more frequently in patients with a specific disease by conducting "genome-wide association studies, which survey hundreds of thousands or millions of markers across control and disease populations."6 DTC companies use these publicly available studies to decide which markers to include in their analyses, but none of the companies we investigated used the exact same markers in its tests. For example, Company 1 looked at 5 risk markers for prostate cancer, while Company 4 looked at 18 risk markers.

I have taken two genotype screening tests from the DTC companies, 23andMe and Pathway Genomics (both of whom sent representatives to testify at yesterday's hearing). Let's take a look at the reported results concerning my risk of prostate cancer. Pathway tests for 18 markers associated with prostate cancer risk and 23andMe tests for 5 such markers. Why the difference? Each company will have different standards for deciding how strongly correlated with prostate cancer risk certain gene variants are. That's a reaonable judgment call, just as any clinician might make. In any case, what are my results?

According to 23andMe, the average risk that men of European ethnicity will get Prostate Cancer between the ages of 35 and 79 is 17.8 out of 100. Based on the markers the company tested, my risk is 15.2 out of 100. 23andMe goes on to tell me:

Assuming the ethnicity setting above is correct, your test results indicate you are not at increased risk for prostate cancer based on genetics. Note, however, that family history, non-genetic factors and genetic factors not covered in this report can also influence your risk for prostate cancer. About one in six men will face this disease at some point in their lifetimes.

Based on the 18 markers tested by Pathway Genomics, the company reported:

You are not susceptible to developing prostate cancer, according to your genetic profile. A healthy diet, routine exercise, and periodic checkups with your doctor will help you stay healthy.

Not diet and exercise again! Anyway, Pathway adds a "genetics overview" which provides the following information about prostate cancer risk:

The identification of genetic markers for prostate cancer is the subject of ongoing research (PMID 19104501). Despite considerable effort, no high risk gene has yet been identified that is specific to prostate cancer (PMID 19005198). Many alleles, however, have been identified which confer small amounts of risk for or protection from prostate cancer; these may be referred to as low risk susceptibility alleles (PMID 19104501). We currently test 18 low risk susceptibility alleles to assess your genetic risk of developing prostate cancer. While most of the low-risk markers were identified from Caucasian populations, one study suggests that their presence in other ethnic populations is likely to predict similar risk or protection (PMID 19318432). On the other hand, some data suggest that there may be some markers that are specific for risk in African-Americans (PMID 17978284).

That doesn't sound very "misleading" to me. By the way, PMIDs are PubMed Identifiers linking customers to various studies on which Pathway is basing its information.

For what it's worth, my prostate-specific antigen test (which I take every year) is through the floor. And at the risk of offering too much information, I do take a daily Avodart pill to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia. Am I going to stop taking the PSA test based on these results? No.

This is early days for genetic testing, and companies are in the process of devising the best ways to use and interpret genetic information. So while I clearly do not believe that I have been "misled" by the DTC companies, are other consumers really likely to be misled by current tests?

Two things to note are: first, so far fewer than 100,000 Americans have used direct-to-consumer gene scanning services; and secondly, early adopters of gene tests pioneer ways to making the information more user friendly for later consumers. And what is the evidence that consumers misunderstand genetic test results? A 2009 study headed up by Colleen McBride from the National Human Genome Research Institute which evaluated the responses of patients who accepted an offer for genetic susceptibility testing for eight different conditions through a health maintenance organization, is somewhat reassuring. The researchers reported, "We found no evidence that those who considered or sought testing were inclined to overestimate the contributions of genetics to common health conditions or to underestimate behavioral risk factors."

Of course, future tests are going to be more accurate, but the way to get there is not by imposing hyper-cautious government, that is, Food and Drug Administration, regulations on the nascent testing industry. That being said, if any companies are engaging in actual fraud they should be punished.

Addendum: For an alternative, and incorrect view of the matter, see bioethicist Arthur Caplan's column here.

NEXT: Bureaucratic Brownies

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  1. The NIH spends millions of dollars on studies that promise to identify these genetic variants that will predict our disease risks.

    Then the government gets pissed off when companies actually try to make sense of them.

    I want my tax dollars back.

    1. But the report wasn’t “pissed.” It was just pointing out that some of these companies are not “trying to make sense of them” but are, instead, telling lies to try and make lots of cents off of them.

  2. This is just another example of American citizens not wanting to put forth the required effort to do anything useful.

    If you want to the benefits of a good or service, then you should put some time and effort into researching whatever good or service you’re purchasing.

    Instead, people don’t want to think about it, so they expect the government to establish standards to help them decide which products/services are good and which are bad. Now we have environmental standards and labels, grades of beef, multiple certifications in the fitness/nutrition industry, multiple teaching degrees and qualifications, etc.

    1. I shouldn’t have to read my mortgage or credit card contract! I’m entitled to those things! Also, why the hell should I have to plan for my own retirement?! Do you know how much that will cut into my TV time?

      1. I guarantee you that you do not understand all the implications of every provision of your credit card contracts.

        In fact, I’d be willing to bet even money that you have not in fact even read all your credit card contracts in their entirety. Virtually no one does.

        1. I have read and understood mine.

          1. NM: Then I predict that you would have little difficulty in reading and understanding the results from genotype screening tests.

            1. Ron, he’s a progressive. Of course he’s super competent and intelligent. He just wants massive government intervention for our sake. It’s really quite altruistic and noble of him.

        2. And? If I get screwed, I have only myself to blame. I’m willing to take the risk without running to the government to rewrite the contract.

          1. This attitude promotes incentives for everyone to be as tricky as possible in writing and making contracts. What’s that good for? Is our liberty expanded by having to be on constant vigil all the time?

            1. Is our liberty expanded by having to be on constant vigil all the time?

              Is our liberty expanded by not allowing a third party to come in and rewrite contracts at will? Yes. Nobody is owed a credit card or a mortgage. Don’t like the terms? Don’t sign. Don’t understand the terms? Hire a lawyer or don’t sign.

            2. Re: MNG,

              Is our liberty expanded by having to be on constant vigil all the time?

              Don’t you think people will make more business with suppliers that make simpler contracts? Would’t then your preoccupation and concern with these “incentives” you mentioned be a waste of your time?

            3. See, this is where concealed carry comes into play.

            4. Is our liberty expanded by having to be on constant vigil all the time?

              I dunno about that, but I’ve heard that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

            5. “This attitude promotes incentives for everyone to be as tricky as possible in writing and making contracts.”

              No, no it doesn’t.

  3. Feds Think You Are Too Stupid to Understand Genetic Test ResultsAnything

    There. More accurate about what the Feds really think of us, the idiots that feed them.

  4. I am a bit confused about how this kind of report is a problem. They documented some pretty bad practices (including straight up fraud) and published their findings.

    1. Because people need the liberty to be victims of fraud NM! It will weed out the stupid. Sheesh, try to keep up!

      1. Re: MNG,

        Because people need the liberty to be victims of fraud NM! It will weed out the stupid. Sheesh, try to keep up!

        Don’t you want the stupid to be weed out, MNG? You want Paradise to return, like Tony?

    2. NM: Actually, as far as I can tell, the report fails to clearly differentiate between it findings about the four leading DTC genotype screening companies (23andMe, Pathway, DeCode and Navigenics) which report differential risk results from the fraudulent activity by other companies calling themselves, among other things, nutrigenomics companies.

      Reporting differential risk results is not fraudulent — selling supplements based on your alleged genetic results probably is.

      1. Ive brought it up before, but what I what I would want from these companies is an accurate gene map. Interpretation is between me and my doctor.

        1. As one expert said, “the fact that different companies, using the same samples, predict different directions of risk is telling and is important. It shows that we are nowhere near really being able to interpret [such tests].”

          Which is why what I would want is raw data.

          1. 23AndMe offers this.

        2. Your doctor would most likely refer you to a geneticist as s/he would likely not have the skill set to interpret your gene map.

          1. Agreed. But that decision is between me and my doctor. And I would bet the geneticist is a doctor too, whether MD or PhD.

            1. The importance of licensing standards for health care providers looms large in your comment.

              1. My doctor (hypothetically, I dont really have one, havent been to one in over 15 years, not counting eye) recommends specialists to me. I then choose to go or not go to specialist he recommends.

                1. That still means its between me and my doctor(s).

                2. Not sure how the licensing issue comes into play at all.

                1. You referenced the “MD” or “PH.D.” in your comment. You indicated that you would place more trust in your doctor and/or the specialist with a license that your doctor referred you to than you would place on the (potentially) unlicensed entrepreneur that provided you with the test data to start with.

                  1. MD or PhD isnt a license. Its a degree. And to be honest, a guy with a BS in genetics who my doctor thought was really good at his job would be fine by me. Either that or Im finding a new doctor.

                    1. Well, an MD/PHD medical geneticists practicing without a license would be an interesting referral from your doctor, but okay.

                    2. Im sure they would be, IN TODAYS WORLD. But it doesnt say anything about the importance of licensing standards other than my doctor doesnt want to go to jail?

                    3. But your reaction to this issue was to say you would take the results and get your answers from those professionals operating within the licensed community, rather than having the company who specializes in these tests giving you interpretations of your results. From that I inferred that you put more faith in that professional. But why wouldn’t you trust the testing company? If you are just talking about the concept of having a medical home including a long-standing relationship with your doctor, then the license doesn’t come into it. But given your admission above that you don’t have such a medical home, I wonder why you would go to a family doctor for an interpretation of a specialized test rather than trusting the people to whom you went for that test. To me, it seems that the issue of trust in your gut reaction favored the professional operating within the licensing system.

                    4. Well, Ive been planning on getting a doctor. Im 40 and I think there are a bunch of tests that I should probably be having done now.

                      The primary reason for my reaction is that I want an entire map (currently prohibitively expensive). It isnt that I wouldnt look at their results, its that I dont want to pay for their analysis, I just want raw data that I will have in the future as the analysis changes. If I have to get the analysis too, I would look at it and follow up with a specialist on anything that looked like a problem.

                      But, I would rather talk to a specialist. It is about expertise, not licensing. And, at this time, the experts are primarily in the licensed regime.

                    5. It seems unless you go to one of the hucksters documented in this report, the company providing you with this raw data probably has as much or more expertise interpreting their own results than you would find elsewhere. The challenge is differentiating the hucksters from the quality professionals in such a specialized field.

                    6. The challenge is differentiating the hucksters from the quality professionals in such a specialized field.

                      And what field, specialized or not, isnt this true?

                      the company providing you with this raw data probably has as much or more expertise interpreting their own results than you would find elsewhere.

                      Disagree. They are generalists. I would rather talk to the guys doing the research on the specific genomes in question. As Bronwyn points out below, even that isnt any kind of guarantee.

                      But, 20 years from now…I expect there will be some clear cut choices on who to talk to.

                    7. The more specialized the field, the easier it is to pull the wool over the consumer’s eyes.

                      As for the generalist/specialist interpretation, I guess that is a fair enough point. But until the people who know the test can provide you with an interpretation of what results are worth a closer look, you would have no idea which specific problems might need further investigation.

                  2. It’s always a good idea to talk through medical information with a specialist, as well as get a second opinion. For something as new as genetic testing, it doesn’t matter whether the entrepreneur has a doctorate along with the entirety of his staff; if I planned to act on the information I would try to find personalized attention.

                    It’s no different than seeking a second opinion. I trust my doctor, but if he told me I needed to take a powerful drug or undergo surgery, I would definitely verify that diagnosis.

                    1. Indeed.

      2. Ron: I think the report gives two main pieces of information for consumers.

        1) These tests are not really ready for prime-time and you should be very skeptical of the value of the results you will get.
        2) There are folks out there making fraudulent claims based on these kinds of test in order to sell you something.

        I didn’t find these two points conflated too badly in the report.

        Maybe you think consumers are too stupid to understand the information provided by this report (~_^)

        1. Nah, its congressmen I worry about, not consumers.

          1. Congress critters are not SUBSTANTIALLY dumber than your average Joe.

            1. [CITATION NEEDED]

            2. Outside of CA, the average Joe doesnt have much power to pass laws.

            3. Congress critters are not SUBSTANTIALLY dumber than your average Joe.

              That is a SUBSTANTIAL overstatement. I have no doubt that some of them are intelligent but given the actions and verbal and writing output of some, there are definitely those who have below-average intelligence.

              1. I am sure as a group they fall within the broadly average range.

                1. I am sure as a group they fall within the broadly average range.

                  That sure is damning them with faint praise. The average person in this country is a dullard. As long as dullards in elected positions of power continue to treat their constituents as wards of the state that will remain unchanged.

                  1. The average person in this country is a dullard.

                    The average person in this country is below average?

                  2. The average person in this country is a dullard.

                    There is actually no belief more boring than the one that everyone else is an idiot. It’s so commonplace to the point of triteness.

                    So, et tu, swillfredo? Yes, I think so.

                    1. swillfredo is also a better than average driver, and good in bed. /sarcasm

                    2. So, et tu, swillfredo? Yes, I think so.

                      What would you call the ease with which the people of this country have welcomed the policies which have relived them of the burden of self-determination?

                    3. The progenitor of these policies is that other people are too dumb to decide, not Smart People Like Me.

                      In other words, you are part of problem, not the solution.

              2. verbal and writing written output of some

                1. verbal and writing written output of some

                  Keep your day job.

        2. The problem as I, and probably Ron, see it is that the only way the tests will become better is thru the market developing. The first of any product is pretty crappy.

          That doesnt excuse the fraud. I think your point 2 is very legitimate. Point 1 is caveat emptor as far as Im concerned. I want the first movers to continue to buy this so that I can get what I want 5 years from now at a reasonable price.

          1. “The first of any product is pretty crappy.”

            WTF? I love my android phone, but the iPhone really wasn’t all that crappy. In fact some androids are worse than the first iPhone. I bet you can find hamburger joints that are substantially worse than the first one.

            1. The first burgers didnt even have cheese.

              Their have been substantial improvements.

            2. While it wasnt the first, watch lethal weapon some time. Check out the “cell phone” in the movie. It had infrastructure.

        3. I actually (consensually) looked over a friend’s 23AndMe report, and was quite impressed. Granted, my PhD is in biophysics, and not genetics, but I’m pretty well versed in the basics of the material.

    3. Quoting from the summary:

      “GAO did not conduct a scientific study”

      Maybe they fucking should have.

  5. RE: the pacemaker story

    How does that prove anything?

    If genetically I have only a 1% chance of prostate cancer and I get that result but have had prostate cancer, all that means is I beat the odds (in a bad way). That doesnt mean the genetic test is wrong.

    Same for heart disease and pacemaker dude. Genetically he *may* have had a reduced risk of heart disease.

    1. This is politics, so anecdote > data.

    2. The average American’s understanding of probability is about on par with their understanding of economics.

      1. Humans as a species have a very difficult time using probability in their decision making according to most research on the subject, economists included.

        1. This is true. But when putting together a report, I would hope they would use math instead of relying on judgment, to prevent that problem.

          I have a recent example of this that is too long to post. A friend was asking me about a probabilistic situation and didnt understand the answer – I gave him the right answer. When he tried to “reason” it out, I said “Do the fucking math, whatever the math says is the right answer”. He then gave me a follow-up, and I got it wrong, because I didnt do the fucking math (the math was much more complex in the advanced case). Later, I worked out the math and saw logically where my error was and how to generalize the concept properly (which I tried to do being Scenario 1 and Scenario 2 – but did it wrong).

          Yeah, yeah, cool story bro.

        2. A couple of good examples of this, involving government spending:

          1. Speed Bumps. Parents like speed bumps so that rogue speeders dont run over their kids. But, speed bumps actually endanger lives. Each speed bump adds ~10 seconds onto an ambulance run, which ends up statistically killing way more people than they save, because very few pedestrian fatalities are on side streets.

          2. The FDA. Kills more from the delay of drugs than it saves from preventing bad drugs.

          1. [citations needed] (~_^)

            1. Both have been posted on reason. There is a search box up in the corner (Im posted a link to the FDA study multiple times).

            2. There is a speed bump study out of Texas and London IIRC.

            3. One FDA link

              Quote from above:

              [T]he benefits of FDA regulation relative to that in foreign countries could reasonably be put at some 5,000 casualties per decade or 10,000 per decade for worst-case scenarios. In comparison, it has been argued above that the cost of FDA delay can be estimated at anywhere from 21,000 to 120,000 lives per decade. . . . Given the uncertainties of the data, these results must be interpreted with caution, although it seems clear that the costs of regulation are substantial when compared to benefits.

              1. Hardly strong evidence, methinks.

              2. Hardly strong evidence, it seems. At least they provide an interpret with caution statement.

                1. 5-10k CASUALTIES
                  vs
                  21-120k DEATHS

                  Both parts are hard to prove accurately, but seems like strong evidence (not proof) to me.

                  Heck, that isnt even an anti-FDA argument, its a hurry the fuck up argument.

                  One of the points the page I found points out about that study as it doesnt include deaths to reduced number of drugs, just delays – so number is probably much higher.

                  1. One of the points the page I found points out about that study as is doesn’t include deaths to reduced number of drugs, just delays – so number is probably much higher.

                    It also doesn’t calculate death from drugs that don’t make it to market at all because the process keeps them off the market. Given the large presence the US plays in drug development, the FDA process likely stops many dangerous drugs from entering into the approval stream in foreign markets in the first place which it seems would skew the estimates used in this study substantially.

      2. I would hope the GAO would have a better understanding of both.

    3. Same for heart disease and pacemaker dude. Genetically he *may* have had a reduced risk of heart disease.

      Although not the best written report, my reading was that they were trying to make this exact point. (Rather than “making much of” they were using it as an example of how the genetic testing was of limited utility).

  6. threadjack, but didnt see a good place to put this:

    The spice must flow

  7. The net result will probably be some sort of regulation on the industry, which will be good for the established players. How can I buy stock in 23AndMe?

  8. NM: Actually, as I read the report, it doesn’t go overboard (and given my suspicious nature when it comes to government agencies, the GAO’s muddling of issues was possibly done with malice aforethought)in the making the distinction between alleged testing inadequacies and fraud. In any case, I was responding to your first observation:
    I am a bit confused about how this kind of report is a problem. They documented some pretty bad practices (including straight up fraud) and published their findings.

    Which also did not make that distinction clearly.

    1. Fair enough, but I still don’t see how this report is a problem. It is simply providing information to decision makers. Would it be better if they made decisions without this information?

      Are you saying that because your experience was generally benign that the documentation of bad practices and weak utility is somehow inappropriate?

      I mean, I get that you are engaged in a pre-emptive strike here (“don’t use this information to hamstring the growing market”), but the way the post is written it seems you have a problem with the GAO attempting to evaluate the market practices.

      1. If the expert report muddles the difference between selling snake oil, and differences in interpreting breaking scientific discoveries, then what hope do congresscritters have?

  9. “For example, the report makes much of the fact that one tested donor who had a pacemaker implanted 13 years ago was told by two of four companies that he was at below average risk for irregular heart beats and two others found his risk to be average.”

    Well, not as bad as when I had cancer (Hodgkins disease) and I got a diagnosis of mononucleosis, temporary swelling, and ‘o, I dunno’ from 3 different doctors.
    Seriously, the problem isn’t crappy diagnostic tests as much as deferring to authority. YOU know your body and how it behaves better than any professional. You think your doctor doesn’t know the answer, get another one!!!

  10. test
    why isn’t this site showing my moniker anymore?

    1. lol.

      Unless you arent fresno dan or fresnodan, you have a browser issue, methinks.

  11. Well, the whole issue is with that 26-page instruction manual. Who has time to read something like that? How can the Average Person? understand something so complex?

    Now, if it were brownies we were talking about, a 26-page manual would be perfectly acceptable.

  12. The problem isn’t the lack of standards set from on high. The last thing we need is the government cherry-picking the GWA studies they like best.

    The problem, scientifically speaking, is the reliance of DTC providers on GWA studies, period. GWA studies are fishing expeditions, nothing more.

    Sure, you can get some interesting results from them, and these may inform your hypotheses as you perform *actual* directed studies, but there is a substantial (ie HUGE) error introduced when you search so widely for factors affecting a single phenotype.

    I encounter scientists who are gung-ho about selling tests based on a single GWA result. It’s hard for me not to scream BAD SCIENTIST! at them.

    Some of these things are SNPs in non-coding, non-regulatory, not-near-anything-recognizable-as-a-gene regions. There is no way of knowing (without further study) if such SNPs are in linkage disequilibrium with a SNP that may have an actual mechanistic consequence. Hell, many of these GWAs are so poorly reported, they don’t even tell you which way a variant affects a phenotype, never mind telling you what the base change is, or the overall allele frequency. These reports literally say, “X SNP is associated with Y phenotype.”

    Ok, what’s the wild type? the variant? Is the variant associated with greater or increased risk? By what mechanism is this likely to occur?

    So what is the value of such a SNP, if all you can tell a patient is, “in this one fishing expedition, this SNP was associated with that phenotype.”

    You can’t calculate a risk from that, nor can you generate any actionable guidance.

    So what’s the point?

    The difference between DTC providers and, say, CLIA certified laboratories, is the requirement to justify their interpretations with clinical evidence.

    The CLIA system is far from perfect and most labs continue to provide poor interpretations (often providing a genotype absent any interpretation at all). So the questionable value of reports also exists in the regulated industry. I say this before anyone jumps down my throat for being a regulatory cheerleader.

    fresnodan clearly experienced some of that questionable quality borne of (a) poor or inadequately interpreted test results and (b) a lack of physician understanding.

    There are many tests available that are backed up by substantial, convincing evidence, and can provide actionable guidance. The sticking point is largely physician resistance, and the persistence of laboratories which provide poor to no interpretive guidance.

    Doc doesn’t see the point, so he doesn’t order the test. Or he gives in and orders the test, and then has no idea what to do with the results.

    Either way, the patient loses.

    The DTC whole-genome scanners aren’t helping, and they are not providing much value from a practical standpoint. If you approach it from a “hey, cool!” perspective, then sure, it’s worth something to you, and maybe you’ll have the stamina and intellectual resources to hunt down and interpret the vast literature to interpret your own results.

    Be careful though, just two months ago a review was published which pointed out that about 8 previous studies had *reversed* their genotype calls.

    It takes a special kind of someone to critically approach and interpret this stuff, and I guarantee the DTCs aren’t doing it.

    /gets off scientifically self-righteous soapbox

    1. Indeed.

    2. The DTC whole-genome scanners aren’t helping, and they are not providing much value from a practical standpoint. If you approach it from a “hey, cool!” perspective, then sure, it’s worth something to you, and maybe you’ll have the stamina and intellectual resources to hunt down and interpret the vast literature to interpret your own results.

      Hence my “give me my raw results”. I may just store the DVD away for 20 years before the data is worth using, but that should be my call.

      1. Well, I’d be happy to provide interpretive assistance for those things I feel comfortable with, and could refer you to good people to help with the rest. Now you just have to fork over the cash to get the scan done.

        Or, you can get your physical, see if anything of concern comes up and then see if there are any genotyping tests that could help you choose a therapeutic path or otherwise understand your clinical findings.

    3. It’s the current equivalent of the whole body cat scan. You discover all kinds of benign lumps and tumors.

      Now what?

      1. Exactly. I’d rather get tested for a particular gene if I’m, say, diagnosed as schizophrenic and the drug on the docket could cause neuroleptic malignant syndrome.

        Or if I have a-fib and my doc wants me on Warfarin, I’d like to be genotyped so the doc doesn’t over- or under-dose me.

        Or if I have AIDS and my doc wants to put me on Abacavir, I want the HLA-B5701 test that will tell me if the drug will kill me, thank you.

        That’s something you can take to the bank.

  13. Feds Think You Are Too Stupid to Understand Genetic Test Results

    Most people are. Just look at the O.K. Simpson jury.

    1. Man, joe’z law is merciless this week.

      1. Yeah, because when a commenter’s finger accidentally slips and hits the key neighboring the intended one, the resulting typographical error invalidates the entire comment and is proof positive of the commenter’s lack of intelligence.

        Meh.

        1. Joe’z law: (roughly) when calling into question someone’s intelligence, you will inevitably make a spelling/typographical/grammatical error. It does nothing to invalidate your comment. It just has a nice ironic symmetry.

  14. 23andMe’s Response to the GAO Report: http://spittoon.23andme.com/20…..tifically/

  15. The investigation focused upon a few small companies which produced genetic testing for “low penetrance” genes…and for internet marketing or provided direct to consumer and not to those who test for most life threatening hereditary cancers.Those particular tests for life threatening conditions such as to diagnose Lynch syndrome, a hereditary cancer, are ONLY prescribed by health care professionals who have the expertise to diagnose and treat such conditions and are essential toward saving lives. In the example of Lynch syndrome, a genetic test is absolutely necessary to protect families and to save lives. This particular test, only available through prescription and a qualified laboratory allows individuals to know their high risks of obtaining inherited cancers of the colon (up to an 85% lifetime risk) uterus (up to a 65% lifetime risk), ovaries (up to a 13% lifetime risk), pancreas, gastric tract, hepto-biliary tract, gall bladder duct, skin and brain. Genetic testing is the closest thing to a cure for individuals with Lynch syndrome. Following genetic testing and diagnosis, individuals are afforded annual surveillance and testing for cancers. If discovered, the growths are removed or treatment is given before the cancer becomes life threatening. As a result, individuals live far longer than in the past and have empowerment and control over their health situation. As well, they can protect their families.Its important not to judge all genetic tests and test manufacturers by one small hearing in Congress in which four companies, selling tests on the internet, without a prescription, were targeted. Tests prescribed by your health provider are mostly likely from major institutions or proven manufacturers and your health provider or genetic counselor will provide more information about the test, the syndrome and your risk.For more information on Lynch syndrome, please feel free to visit http://www.lynchcancers.com

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