Scientific and technological advancements amaze us all the time. We can video chat with a loved one thousands of miles away with the push of a button, we can successfully treat some cancers, we can find ways to help the disabled walk. The surprise of some technologies fades with time—nobody is blown-away at the advent of the telephone or electricity anymore—and according to Linda Avey, co-founder of the DNA testing company 23 and Me, DNA testing could someday share this commonplace fate.
Bianna Golodryga recently reported on this topic for ABC News, focusing on how DNA testing is beneficial to parents or couples hoping to conceive. 23 and Me provides genetic testing for $399, or $99 with a monthly commitment to The Personal Genome Service. The process is simple: order your kit, register it and spit into the provided tube, send it back to the lab, wait 6-8 weeks and then log-in to your online portal of genetic discovery.
That’s a pretty good price for a service that will help you find out if you’re predisposed to serious conditions like breast cancer, Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and a number of others. This is especially true if you have children or plan to. The founders of 23 and Me have a strong focus on finding information as preventative medicine. The point is to prevent or put-off these conditions as long as possible. The information can provide life-saving knowledge to your doctor as well.
Bianna Golodryga’s article brought up some interesting points, though. Have you ever been asked some form of the philosophical question would you want to know how and when you’re going to die? The 23 and Me DNA testing kit doesn’t go that far, but it invigorates similar sentiments among some people, who would rather not know this kind of information.
In her article, Bianna Golodryga reinforces that the makers of 23 and Me aren’t trying to “play God,” though the test is controversial. Golodryga says the founders “believe that if parents are armed with information, they can do something about things beforehand.” The test doesn’t guarantee that you or your child will fall victim to any of the considered diseases and illnesses—but rather, that there is a predisposition. With this information, preventative measures can be taken early on.
It is a bit scary, though. Imagine waiting those 6-8 weeks, and then logging-in to find you’re predisposed to breast cancer. But there is a diamond in this rough. You could then make sure to take every preventative step: frequent mammograms, living a healthy cancer-averting lifestyle, and being ready for early detection and treatment should you develop breast cancer.
In our current place in time, it’s understandable that some would feel ignorance is bliss as far as genetic testing goes. But if the scientist in all of us—the rational-minded part of us—could see the benefit and not fear the results, we could all be living healthier lives, arming our doctors with valuable information, and preventing all kinds of conditions within ourselves and our family members.