Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Consumer Gene Testing : Vice or Virtue?

If you had the money, would you pay $399 dollars to find out your predisposition for cancer, obesity, alcohol dependence and many other health related things? Would you really want to know? The reason I ask is that just such a service is now becoming available. It's called
23andMe and it is one of Time's Best Inventions of 2008. You simply pay the money, get a kit sent to you, spit in a tube, and then send it to them. After a few weeks you log in and you can find out from analysis of your DNA all kinds of crazy stuff about yourself. Some of it would be quite useful and some of it would be downright scary.

23andMe currently reports on over 90 disease possibilities and health traits and the number is growing. As I looked at it I got excited - wow, I could learn all kinds of interesting things about myself! But on the other hand it was unnerving. Would I want to pay to find out that I have a 70% chance of developing lung cancer, restless legs syndrome, or schizophrenia? I'm not so sure that knowledge would really improve the quality of my life. I mean it could extend it, but for chronic worriers this service would not be good! So I'm not sure . . . but I'm curious about what others would think:


Tornado said...

if people knew exactly what was going to happen to them in the future, they would do everything they could to stop it, which would not coincide with what god has planned for them. so if i had 399 dollars i would spend it on something worthwhile.

Jobina said...

I'm not one who believes that we should just coast through life without trying to make it better. I would want to know. I think it would give me the kick in the butt that I need to change some of my lifestyle. It would also dispel that feeling that we are invincible.
I might pay someone though to read me only the results that I actually have a hope of changing and burn the rest so I don't have to worry about it or psychologically manifest those symptoms for the rest of my life!

Aneta said...

That's a tough question. My first reaction was YES I would do it. Knowledge is power. But, upon second thought, maybe not; I tend to worry more than some, so this would probably create more worry fodder for me. I tend to NOT want to know the bad news.