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Why We Have a Right to Consumer Genetics

It’s hard to get straightforward health guidance from personal genome tests, which are banned in some places. But one way to make them more meaningful is to let more people buy them.

By Susan Young on January 2, 2013

It was easy to send my spit to 23andMe, a personal genetics company based in Mountain View, California. I filled the tube that came by mail with a few milli­liters of saliva, mixed in the preservative solution, and screwed on the cap, and my sample was ready to be mailed. Soon I would know my risks for Alzheimer’s, breast cancer, and obesity, and I’d have an idea what medications I should avoid.

Well, not exactly. As in most of human genetics, what’s tricky about consumer-friendly tests is interpreting the significance of DNA variation. A couple of weeks after shipping off my tube, I got an e-mail notice that my results were on 23andMe’s website. While it was fun to click through my ancestry reports, I was less compelled by the analysis of the genetic traits that could influence my health.

Read more: Why We Have a Right to Consumer Genetics | MIT Technology Review.

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