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Clin Genet. 2012 Jan;81(1):4-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.2011.01799.x. Epub 2011 Nov 10.

DTC genetic testing: pendulum swings and policy paradoxes.

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  • 1Health Law and Science Policy Group, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2H5, Canada.


After decades of optimistic portrayals, there has been a shift in the way that the popular press represents genomic research. A skeptical view has become more common. The central reason for this pendulum swing away from popular support is the harsh truth that most genetic risk information just isn't that predictive. This reality has created a fascinating policy paradox. If, as many in the scientific community are now saying, genetic information is not the oracle of our future health as we were once led to believe, and if access does not, for most, cause harm, why regulate the area? Why worry about shoddy direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing companies? One primary justification, and one endorsed by the recent Canadian College of Medical Geneticists (CCMG) Policy Statement on DTC Genetics Testing, is that information that is conveyed to the public about genetics via marketing and to those who access DTC tests should, at a minimum, be accurate.

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