Direct-to-consumer genetic testing’s red herring: “Genetic ancestry” and personalized medicine
29 March 2019
Mwenza Blell and M. A. Hunter
Frontiers in Medicine (2019) 6:4
This article was the focus of a HDR UK blog in which commercial genetic testing being used in healthcare was further discussed.
The growth in the direct-to-consumer genetic testing industry poses a number of challenges for healthcare practice, among a number of other areas of concern. Several companies providing this service send their customers reports including information variously referred to as genetic ethnicity, genetic heritage, biogeographic ancestry, and genetic ancestry. In this article, we argue that such information should not be used in healthcare consultations or to assess health risks. Far from representing a move toward personalized medicine, use of this information poses risks both to patients as individuals and to racialized ethnic groups because of the way it misrepresents human genetic diversity.
Dr Mwenza Blell
Rutherford Fellow at Newcastle University
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