"The Perfect 46" is an upcoming movie in which people are routinely tested to find an ideal genetic partner with whom to create a child. In the real world, things are almost as far-out. Some companies can screen and alert you to DNA variants that might combine with your partner's to produce an offspring with a rare, single-gene disease, such as cystic fibrosis.
Others look for genetic indications that you could develop a disease down the road, so you can make decisions about prevention or medical treatment.
But there are lots of questions about how reliable these mail-in-a-vial-of-blood-or-saliva genetic tests are. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ordered one big-buzz company to stop shipping its $99 spit kit. Seems the company can't prove the accuracy of its tests for 254 genetic problems and were suggesting what people might do with test results.
That has potentially devastating health consequences. For example, a false-positive result for a high-risk gene-linked condition such breast cancer might lead a woman to have a mastectomy when she didn't really need to consider having one.
So whether you're curious about your genome or you have a family history of a disorder that you want to avoid passing on to your children, get tested only if advised by a doctor who's trained in genetic medicine - and have a second test done to confirm results. These tests will get more accurate, but they aren't there yet! At Dr. Mike's Cleveland Clinic, people receive in-depth counseling if genetic testing is needed, and that's the context in which genome exploring should be done!
© King Features Syndicate