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Want to get your DNA tested?
You may be a little wary after reading this week’s story about my results. But if you still want to take the plunge, here are some FAQs about genetic tests.
Q: Can I still take part in the Scripps Health/Navigenics study?
A: Yes, although the price has gone up from the $300 I paid last year. For the general public, the cost is now $470.
You’ll have to sign a lengthy consent form, and you’ll be expected to fill out occasional questionnaires over the next 20 years.
The study had about 3,300 participants when enrollment ended in late February, although the study has since been extended through June. Researchers had hoped to enroll 10,000 people.
Q: What conditions does the test look for?
A: The test will estimate your lifetime risk of getting these conditions: Brain aneurysm, Crohn’s disease, obesity, Graves’ disease, glaucoma, restless leg syndrome, lung cancer, colon cancer, heart attack and atrial fibrillation.
Also: Diabetes (type 2), osteoarthritis, psoriasis, macular degeneration, abdominal aneurysm, Alzheimer’s disease, stomach cancer, lupus, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Men will be tested for their prostate cancer risk and women for their breast cancer risk.
One note: the study won’t test for a genetic variation that greatly increases the risk that a woman will get breast cancer. The study is designed to only provide information about conditions that aren’t sure things; the idea is to encourage you to take action in terms of screening or prevention.
However, it’s possible that the test may say you have as much as an 80 percent probability of developing an illness.
Q: What about other diseases?
A: Other companies — including 23andMe and deCODEme — will test your DNA and provide estimates about your risk of a variety of other conditions, such as gout, thyroid cancer, gallstones and even male- pattern baldness.
You can buy a “complete scan” by deCODEme for $985; 23andMe’s scan runs $399.
Navigenics, 23andMe and deCODEme got into hot water last summer when state officials ordered them to stop soliciting customers in California. But all three companies later got licenses to do so.
Q: Will the rest results turn me into a nervous wreck?
A: It’s possible, but it didn’t happen to me, and I’m a natural-born worrywart.
One of my friends expected I would be lying awake at night fretting about my own results, but that hasn’t happened. I feel some sense of control because I can now get screened earlier than other people and hopefully catch a tumor before it’s too late.
Your mileage, however, may vary.
Q: I’m going to die anyway, so why bother with a genetic test?
A: Elissa Levin, director of genetic counseling at Navigenics, has this response: “There are a lot of different ways for people to approach health in life. This is especially relevant for people who want to have a sense of what to expect and make sure they’re doing everything in their power (to improve their health).”