home
RSS
A warning against genetic testing
April 2nd, 2012
03:54 PM ET

A warning against genetic testing

If you follow health news, you’ve heard talk about a person's “genetic risk" of disease. With companies offering personalized genetic tests for as little as $200, it’s tempting to think that a world of knowledge is at our fingertips.

But a new paper from some of the leading names in science throws a bit of cold water on the promise.

According to a group from Johns Hopkins University, led by two scientists known for breakthrough discoveries on the genetics of cancer, genomic sequencing “fails to provide informative guidance to most people about their risk for most common diseases.”

The problem, they say, is not the state of current technology and knowledge –- which is limited –- but a more basic problem: genetics plays a surprisingly small role in determining the chances that we'll get sick. Score one for the environment.

That's why, at this point in time, "prudent screening, early diagnosis and prevention strategies, such as not smoking and removing early cancers, will be the keys to cutting disease death rate," according to Dr.Bert Vogelstein, M.D.,co-director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

He says that if someone is relying on a whole genome test to be the crystal ball that predicts their likelihood of getting cancer, they will be disappointed.

Experts are also concerned about people ordering genomes off the Internet. If someone receives information without the proper context from a doctor or genetic counselor, it could give them a false sense of security and stop them from taking preventative measures.

Nicholas Roberts, one of the study authors and a graduate student at Johns Hopkins says that even in the best case scenario, the majority of people who have their whole genome tested will get a negative test result - that means the results do not reveal any genes that cause cancer. 

But that doesn't mean they won't get cancer. More than just genes contribute to someone getting the disease.

Nathan Pearson, director of research at Knome, a company that sequences whole genomes for researchers, praised the study and said it helps to think of our genes as being like a musical score. Two performers can be seeing the same notes in front of them, yet sound quite different.

“There are many different renditions,” says Pearson. “You can improvise.”

Pearson explains what he found when he sequenced the genome of Ozzy Osbourne.

To reach their conclusion, the Hopkins group performed a set of straightforward calculations, based on the studies of identical twins. They looked at the strength of the link between genes and disease for each of 24 different ailments.  As they point out, "[Identical] twins in general do not always develop or die from the same maladies.”

While their tone is cautious, they point out that some common diseases have a much stronger genetic component than others. Based on twin studies, genetic testing might some day predict more than 90% of coronary heart disease deaths in men, and more than 90% of all Alzheimer’s cases. By contrast, testing could predict fewer than a third of lung cancers, breast cancers, leukemia and ovarian cancers.

These figures are based on a “best-case scenario,” in which complete genomes have been examined for millions or tens of millions of individuals. The state of knowledge today is much more primitive. According to Pearson, current genetic testing is most useful when analyzing individual cancer cells, or in finding the causes of rare diseases, in which a single mutation leads to devastating results.

Some pitches seem to promise more. The website of 23AndMe, a company which offers genetic tests directly to consumers, urges people to “Take a more active role in managing your health,” and promises that “knowing your genes may impact your health, can help you plan for the future and personalize your healthcare with your doctor.” 23AndMe does not analyze the full genome of its customers, but rather sections of the genome whose influence is relatively well-known.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on 23AndMe and genetic testing for African-Americans

David Hinds, principal scientist for statistical genetics at 23AndMe, says the company makes sure that customers don’t expect too much.

“At this stage the presumption is that this testing has no clinical utility.” He agreed with the paper’s authors, who say genetic tests will never replace current disease prevention strategies. “It’s just another piece of information.”


soundoff (256 Responses)
  1. alprostadil injection video

    what is alprostadil used for https://alprostadildrugs.com/ alprostadil injection demonstration

    April 5, 2021 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. sildenafil otc europe

    order sildenafil no prescription https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ censurГ© sildenafil from canada censurГ©

    April 6, 2021 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. vardenafil 20mg india manufacturer

    vardenafil 20mg india manufacturer https://vegavardenafil.com/ vardenafil 40 mg generic

    April 6, 2021 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. tadalafil 40

    tadalafil daily use https://elitadalafill.com/ order tadalafil

    April 7, 2021 at 01:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. injectable drug for erectile dysfunction

    alprostadil injection https://alprostadildrugs.com/ alprostadil cream reviews

    April 11, 2021 at 23:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Caleb

    The other day, while I was at work, my sister stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

    https://www.facebook.com/clipsitnet/posts/630413351208923

    April 12, 2021 at 09:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. zithromax z pack

    zithromax used for https://zithromaxes.com/ zithromax indications

    April 12, 2021 at 18:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. cialis, sale, canadian pharm.

    cialis at canadian pharmacy https://canadacialisstore.com/ cialis viagra combination canadian pharmacy

    April 18, 2021 at 05:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. tadalafil tablets

    generic tadalafil united states https://elitadalafill.com/ generic tadalafil united states

    April 20, 2021 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. vardenafil dosage

    vardenafil price https://vegavardenafil.com/ cheap vardenafil

    April 21, 2021 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. canadian weight loss pills

    canadian pharmacies ed pills https://canadapillstorex.com/ best canadian mail order pharmacies for diet pills

    April 22, 2021 at 08:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. what is the price of generic viagra in canada

    generic viagra cost walmart canada https://canadaviagrastore.com/ best canada viagra pills online

    April 23, 2021 at 03:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. sildenafil 100 canada

    sildenafil tablet usa https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ sildenafil 10 mg price

    April 24, 2021 at 03:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. homes for sale dalton gardens

    https://maps.google.mu/url?sa=i&url=https://meganleary.com

    April 24, 2021 at 03:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Couches Near Me

    Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after browsing through some of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m certainly pleased I found it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

    http://www.mexicolore.co.uk/click.php?url=http://www.rvcollisionrepairpaintshop.com

    April 24, 2021 at 03:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Used Forklift Rental California

    An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. I do believe that you should publish more about this subject matter, it might not be a taboo subject but typically people don't discuss these topics. To the next! All the best!!

    http://flynnranchhunting.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=wildwestlifttrucks.com/standing-forklift-repair-orange-county-california/

    April 24, 2021 at 05:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Aurelio Gantewood

    Our program is FREE to join

    https://groovepages.groovesell.com/a/uB8FwUD8cDBJ

    April 24, 2021 at 16:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Ahmed

    This design is spectacular! You definitely know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost...HaHa!) Excellent job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

    https://www.instapaper.com/read/1406626070

    April 24, 2021 at 16:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. maintenance shops near me

    I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy I found this during my hunt for something concerning this.

    http://m.shopindenver.com/redirect.aspx?url=https://ocrvcenter.com/motorhome-furniture-near-me

    April 25, 2021 at 06:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Sound System California

    After looking at a number of the blog articles on your blog, I honestly appreciate your way of writing a blog. I book-marked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my web site too and let me know what you think.

    http://www.pointsvacation.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=iostechsolutios.blogspot.com/2018/12/rv-furniture-stores-california.html

    April 25, 2021 at 07:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. benefits of plaquenil

    erectile response https://plaquenilx.com/ erectile anxiety

    April 27, 2021 at 02:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. mobile

    Quality articles is the crucial to interest the people to visit the website, that's what this web site iis providing.

    April 27, 2021 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. hcq

    chloroquine amazon https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chlorodine

    April 27, 2021 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. house for sale near my location

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Many thanks!

    http://www.filcobpi.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.meganleary.com

    April 27, 2021 at 22:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. mens ed pills

    erectile pump youtube https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ erectile food

    April 29, 2021 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. do you need prescription for canadian prescription of cialis in usa

    cialis canadian discounts https://canadacialisstore.com/ cialis canadian pharmacy

    April 30, 2021 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. best canadian mail order pharmacies for diet pills

    canadian diet pills https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian generic pills

    May 1, 2021 at 07:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. generic viagra cost walmart canada

    viagra without a doctor prescription in canada https://canadaviagrastore.com/ generic viagra order canada

    May 2, 2021 at 03:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Odell

    Hello there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a outstanding job!

    https://twitter.com/clipsitnet/status/1389095859091132416

    May 3, 2021 at 02:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. aika online private server download

    https://www.newluzhniki.ru/bitrix/redirect.php?event1=&event2=&event3=&goto=https://aikareborn.com

    May 5, 2021 at 06:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. utility trailer repair near my location

    After checking out a few of the blog articles on your website, I really like your technique of writing a blog. I book-marked it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back in the near future. Take a look at my web site too and let me know how you feel.

    https://google.com.hk/url?sa=j&source=web&rct=j&url=https://boxtruckrepairshop.com

    May 5, 2021 at 08:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. aika online gameplay

    Great blog you have here.. It’s difficult to find high-quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate people like you! Take care!!

    https://map.google.sh/url?rct=j&sa=t&url=https3A2F2Faikareborn.com&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNGaY_nlK9ozc51fqwjiVdMaYZL7rg

    May 5, 2021 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. avana

    avana avanafil pill

    May 5, 2021 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. aldis near me

    http://oceanliteracy.wp2.coexploration.org/?wptouch_switch=desktop&redirect=http://www.ocrvmotorsports.co

    May 5, 2021 at 20:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Bathroom Near Me

    There is certainly a great deal to know about this subject. I love all the points you made.

    http://cse.google.cg/url?rct=j&sa=t&url=https://ocrvandtrucks.com

    May 5, 2021 at 21:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. dapoxetine

    priligy 30 mg priligy cost

    May 6, 2021 at 06:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. fishing near me

    http://www.deri-ou.com/url.php?url=https://katsfineartstudio.com

    May 6, 2021 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. read this

    Please let me know if you're looking for a article author for your blog. You have some really great posts and I feel I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I'd love to write some articles for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please blast me an e-mail if interested. Kudos!

    https://bbs.yunweishidai.com/home.php?mod=space&uid=1024979&do=profile&from=space

    May 6, 2021 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. firewood near me

    http://italfarmaco.ru/bitrix/rk.php?goto=https://romeomotorsports.com

    May 6, 2021 at 17:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. rv restoration companies near me

    http://dagens6.dk/0/YoutubeVideo.php?film=oUd0xckDGQM

    May 6, 2021 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Forklift Tires Los Angeles

    After going over a few of the articles on your site, I really appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I saved it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon. Please visit my web site too and let me know how you feel.

    http://domaintransfer.info/watch/3s_RMFoFAYI

    May 6, 2021 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Used Beer Kegs For Sale

    http://www.nevada.ua/bitrix/redirect.php?event1=&event2=&event3=&goto=https://allbrewsupplies.com

    May 6, 2021 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Forklift Rental

    https://cse.google.com.bo/url?sa=i&url=https://wildwestforkliftschool.com

    May 6, 2021 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. entry level jobs near me

    http://www.multipullsoft.it/ViewSwitcher/SwitchView?mobile=False&returnUrl=http://spokanevalleywebdesign.com

    May 7, 2021 at 04:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. index of xvideos

    https://reppeat.com/watch/?v=7YO3GGvwaJo

    May 7, 2021 at 06:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Forklift Tires California

    https://map.google.mg/url?sa=t&rct=j&url=https3A2F2Fforkliftsforsalenearme.com&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNGaY_nlK9ozc51fqwjiVdMaYZL7rg

    May 7, 2021 at 07:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Forklift Service Shop Orange County

    It’s difficult to find experienced people on this subject, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

    https://www.funnycat.tv/video/watch/3SXd8VuXvMc

    May 7, 2021 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Golden Lager Beer

    I truly love your blog.. Great colors & theme. Did you develop this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my very own blog and would love to find out where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Appreciate it!

    https://maps.google.com.cu/url?sa=j&source=web&rct=j&url=https://allbrewsupplies.com

    May 7, 2021 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. locksmith near me

    http://www.citymedphysio.co.nz/ra.asp?url=http://www.commercialvanrepairshop.com

    May 7, 2021 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. motorhome repair

    That is a great tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate information… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!

    https://secure.action.news/watch?v=vHejOgQNv30

    May 7, 2021 at 20:03 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.