By Bart Magee, Ph.D.
The last couple of years have seen an exponential rise in the popularity and use of genetic testing. People are getting tested to research ancestry, identify genetic risks for health problems, even for dating. Not only are consumers accessing testing on their own, but it’s being added as a routine screen at clinics and doctor’s offices. On-line services are available to take one’s data and analyze it for potential health risks. And all of this is happening with little or no government oversight and even less psychological insight. And the risks are just beginning to be known. As it was back in the early, wild-west days of the internet, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, excited by a new technology and the wealth of information it can provide while paying little heed to dangers that lie ahead. Lack of privacy around genetic information is a major concern, but I’m going to leave that dialogue to experts in other fields. I’d like to discuss the potential risks to individual health and well-being that are real, serious, and need more attention.