Is DNA Destiny?
Mon, 20 May 2013 20:02:00 GMT —
Actress Angelina Jolie's genetic test showed a BRCA 1 mutation, giving her a very high risk of getting breast cancer.
Her announcement that she decided to have both breasts removed won her applause for raising awareness of cancer risks and sparked discussions about whether DNA is destiny.
Even before Jolie's announcement I had decided to get my own genetic profile through a company called 23andMe.
The key to my genome arrived in a FedEx envelope from California.
I collected my saliva in a testing vial -- sealed it up -- and shipped it off to be sequenced by a lab.
In a few weeks the results were posted -- password protected -- online.
Among other things I discovered I had an increased risk of Arthritis -- Chronic Kidney Disease and Stomach Cancer. But I had a reduced risk of Prostate Cancer -- Melanoma -- and Type 1 Diabetes.
I asked 23andMe's Emily Drabant whether it was wise to deliver this kind of information directly to customers without a doctor's consultation. Drabant says, "We feel really strongly as a company that this is information about you and your body. It's your DNA and we want to give you access to your information."
But can you have too much information? Flower Hospital Genetic Counselor Kelly Morse says, "Interpret with caution. Is it definite that you're going to develop this particular disease or not develop this particular disease? We're not there yet."
So, is DNA destiny when it comes to the risks listed by 23andMe? Drabant says, "We're all at risk for something and if you could know what that something is for you then you could tailor preventative measures."
Angelina Jolie's difficult decision reduced her risk of a fatal disease.
With genetic tests available to almost anyone -- more of us will be forced to choose whether DNA is -- or is not -- Destiny.