Spit parties

The latest fad is for people to come together and have genetic testing “parties”:

Debra Netschert, a financial analyst, was sitting next to her husband, K. C. Dustin, an equities salesman, and spitting into a test tube at a party last week in Chelsea to promote a DNA testing company.

As the ACP Internist Blog points out, whole-body CT scans are yesterday’s news. Genomic spit parties are in.

This is another example of how companies are profiting off the public’s appetite for screening tests.

Not publicized are the implications for the results of these genetic tests. Without proper counseling and interpretation, it can do more harm than good:

“People think if you have money to spend on this, why not buy a test instead of a model train for Christmas,” said Dr. Alan Guttmacher, acting director of the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health. “It can be neat and fun, but it can also have deep psychological implications, both for how you view yourself and how others view you, depending on who else has access to the information.”

Most primary care physicians are not educated in interpreting results of these genetic tests.

Ideally, these tests should be done only in conjunction with genetic counseling follow-up. I don’t think that’s happening.

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