This is a lightly edited transcript from a recent episode of STAT’s biotech podcast, “The Readout LOUD.” Like it? Consider subscribing to hear every episode.
Over the past decade, more than 25 million people have ordered at-home DNA testing kits from companies like 23andMe and Ancestry.com. You spit in a tube, send it away, and get notified by email when your results are ready. Initially aimed at providing information about ancestry, some companies now test for certain genetic mutations that are strongly correlated with the risk of developing cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, or other serious conditions.
Dorothy Pomerantz is one of those 25 million people. Last year, almost on a lark, she bought a 23andMe test and sent her spit to Silicon Valley. But what she learned went far beyond the lighthearted stuff advertised on TV, like connecting with long-lost family members. She wrote about that experience for STAT’s First Opinion, and spoke with STAT about the reaction to it.
Somewhat timely news-
I still would find it very useful to have some links around this article with advice of where one should get BRCA testing. You clearly, very obviously do not want to get your BRCA tested by 23andme, as the article says, but the article doesn’t provide any hint of where one should get it. There are a few direct-to-consumer (=pretty cheap) offers out there, but I have no idea what the differences are and what is recommended by the medical people. Don’t tell me to ask a GP, most of them have idea what genetic testing is about.
THIS WOMAN HAS THE COURAGE OF A LION. CANCER THE SCAREST THING 🦋
If I were the editor, I would have asked Dorothy to rewrite the article from this perspective: a 23andme test provided me with the information I needed to save my own life. It is understandable that the news was disturbing but the company does warn users about that. The gift that Dorothy got was huge, but she didn’t seem to acknowledge that first and foremost. It is articles like these that paint companies that provide groundbreaking information at a very low cost direct to the consumer in a bad light – and that is not at all deserved.
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