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Seen At 11: Over-The-Counter DNA Tests Could Save Lives

Some Experts Caution That Tests Don't Reveal Everything
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NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — It has been suggested that a simple over-the-counter-test could save lives by predicting a user’s “future health”, but some say that the test could do more harm than good.

For as little as $100 you can find out if you are at risk for dozens of fatal diseases from diabetes to cancer, CBS 2′s Kristine Johnson reported.

“It would probably be good to know if you’re predisposed to something,” one New Yorker said.

Cheap and easy, mail order, DNA tests from companies like DNA Traits, Gene Planet, DNA DTC, and 23 And Me promise to give users a glimpse of their future health.

“We test for over 120 different diseases and conditions and they range from things like arthritis to many different kinds of cancer,” Neuroscientist, Emily Drabant-Conley explained.

Gwen Schroeder took the test because her father suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and she wanted to know if she was at risk.

“I’ll be honest. My heart was a little pitter-pattering when I opened the email,” she said.

To her relief the test revealed that she does not carry the same gene, but her DNA did indicate that she is predisposed to heart disease. Schroeder said that the test results have influenced her to eat well and stay active.

“I’m running, I’m doing marathons again. All of these things came out of me finding out more about my risks,” she said.

The home tests use a saliva sample to generate results that are typically delivered via email. One company said that their main goal is to empower people to take better care of themselves.

“You can also get information about how you may respond to certain medications based on your genetics. As well as what are the genetics you could pass on for certain diseases to your children like cystic fibrosis and tay sachs,” Drabant-Conley said.

Critics worry that the psychological implications of this type of testing could make customers feel a sense of doom if they show that they are predisposed to a disease, others could wrongly assume that they are risk free based on test results.

“It’s not all driven by our genes. For many different conditions it has to do with things that happened over the course of our lifetime,” Dr. Wendy Chung, New York Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, said.

Proponents said that the testing is the future of healthcare.

“People are able to understand this information. They want this information and then people are taking the appropriate next steps by bringing it to their physician to follow-up,” Drabant-Conley explained.

Companies also said that they hope that their research will lead to preventions and cures for serious diseases.

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