(ROTTERDAM, Netherlands) -- By simulating the genetic information for 100,000 individuals, investigators in one study from Erasmus University Medical Centre compared the virtual individuals’ risks of eight common diseases to predicted risk data provided by two separate direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies -- one from the U.S., the other from Iceland.
They found that both companies assumed much higher disease risks than they’re actually known to be, indicating that whether these companies can predict disease risks predominantly depends on the method used for their calculation.
In a separate study at the Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law, researchers surveyed European geneticists about their opinions on direct-to-consumer tests. Not surprisingly, and like their U.S. counterparts, the European physicians largely distrusted the validity of such tests and many believed that they should be banned.
The main concern is that the uninformed consumer may not obtain useful results, on one hand, because the tests are not necessarily accurate, and on the other hand, because of the lack of genetic counseling that can explain to them how genetic factors actually influence disease risk.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio